20100903 russia grain 18
A self-propelled combine harvests on a field, near a village of Meshcherskoye, south of Moscow. - 


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Huge wildfires and a drought in Russia caused that country to ban grain sales. The jump in price caused food riots in Africa this week. And a food agency at the United Nations says there's danger the violence could get worse.

Peter van Dyk reports from Moscow.

PETER VAN DYK: Russia's government had made no secret that it wanted to displace the United States as the world's top grain exporter. But, after the hottest and driest summer on record, right now the government simply wants to make sure Russians have enough bread to eat.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last month banned grain exports through the end of this year. He has now announced nothing will leave the country until after the 2011 harvest.

Dmitry Rylko heads Moscow's Institute for Agricultural Market Studies. He says the ban is good for U.S. farmers.

DMITRY RYLKO: It could be considered as some type of help to Americans, to Europeans and to other exporters. This decision was extremely painful, but in my view there was no other solution.

Russia's grain exports jumped to almost 20-fold in the past decade, pushing global wheat prices down. But with the ban on exports in place well into next year, recent price rises should remain. And with them, the threat of more riots, like those seen this week in Mozambique.

For Marketplace, I'm Peter van Dyk in Moscow.