Russia is considering limiting exports of buckwheat for some time in order to keep domestic prices stable, the country's agriculture ministry has said.
Many Russians see buckwheat as a national staple that is traditionally stockpiled in times of hardship – in fact, every spike in domestic prices gets the attention of the public and officials concerned about social stability.
Exports of buckwheat from Russia are up significantly since November, the ministry said.
Russia exports buckwheat to China and its neighbouring countries such as Latvia and Lithuania. Ukraine suspended its buckwheat exports this month until July to protect the domestic market.
Russians consume around 440,000 tonnes of buckwheat a year and in times of uncertainty it tops panic-buy shopping lists.
They stockpiled buckwheat when the coronavirus pandemic started a year ago and emptied shelves in 2014 when rumours of damaged crop was exacerbated by an oil price slump, falling rouble and Western sanctions.
However, there has been no visible panic buying recently. But rising global food prices are affecting Russia among others: a benchmark index produced by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) climbed for the 10th consecutive month in March to the highest level since June 2014.
Moscow previously imposed a list of export curbs on grains and other agricultural products to constrain domestic food inflation, but kept buckwheat unaffected until recently.
The Vedomosti newspaper reported earlier this week that Russian retail chains were discussing higher prices for ready-to-eat buckwheat with suppliers.
Since then a number of meetings were held by officials, and First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov told several ministries to propose options for slowing buckwheat exports.