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World Grain Forum opens in St. Petersburg


ST. PETERSBURG, June 6 (RIA Novosti) - The first World Grain Forum opened in St. Petersburg, with participants focusing on grain prices, food security and technology.

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, who supervises the agricultural industry, opened the forum, which gathered about 1,500 participants, including agriculture ministers, representatives of international organizations, Russian and world companies working in the sphere.

The forum is being held on the initiative of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev backed by G8 leaders who took part in the Japan summit in June 2008.

Speaking at the forum, Medvedev said a new international policy in grain production and trade was needed.

"We need to ensure that leading exporters coordinate their actions to maintain affordable prices on grain markets. The talk is actually about new policies in production and the international trade in grain," he said.

Earlier St. Petersburg governor Valentina Matviyenko said the possibility of establishing a grain cartel would be discussed at the international forum, to last until June 7.

Medvedev also said that the Asia Pacific region is becoming very important for Russian grain exports. "Taking into account the extent of our borders, considering the size of our state, the Asia Pacific region is extremely significant for us," he said.

Zubkov said in May that as the world's fourth-largest grain exporter Russia planned to improve its export policy on the grain market and increase deliveries to Asia Pacific region countries.

Medvedev also called on the international community to develop cooperation in grain production, including innovation.

"The search for innovations, the use of modern agro-technology and achievements in breeding programs and seed growing, are a prerequisite for the dynamic development of grain production. We invite you all to take part in joint research, scientific and technological cooperation," he said.

Medvedev also urged that producers avoid excessive protectionist policies in agriculture.

Experts say grain consumption by 2030 will grow by 30-40%. This means the international community could face a food crisis in the future.

The forum is being held by the Russian government, Agriculture Ministry and the Russian Grain Union, supported by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other organizations.

RIA Novosti is the forum's general information sponsor.

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