Russia may suspend exports of wheat, barley, maize (corn) and rye starting from Tuesday (15 March) until 30 June, the Interfax news agency reported, citing the agriculture ministry.
Russia is the world's largest wheat exporter with Egypt and Turkey among the main buyers. It competes mainly with the European Union and Ukraine.
'The agriculture ministry and the trade ministry have prepared a draft government decree that would introduce a temporary ban on exports of the main grains from Russia from 15 March to 30 June,' Interfax quoted the agriculture ministry as saying.
The Russian agriculture ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.
'A Big Game Changer'
"An actual Russian export ban would be a big game changer. The markets had been hoping and expecting that any ceasefire in Ukraine would have resulted in a quick resumption of full Russian exports from the Black Sea," a European trader said.
"The EU would no doubt have to shoulder a big part of the export demand. I think if there is an export stop, Europe will be able to sell just about everything it has."
Russia's exportable surplus for the period is estimated at between 6 million and 6.5 million tonnes of wheat, Dmitry Rylko, the head of the IKAR agriculture consultancy, said.
Russian wheat exports are down by 45% since the start of the current July-June marketing season because of a smaller crop and grain export taxes as well as export quotas which Moscow has been using since 2021 as part of measures to stabilise domestic food inflation.
A key factor will be whether Russia will allow previous sales to be exported, traders said.
"This could be disastrous news for importers like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria who have booked large volumes of Russian wheat. The Asian importers would also be hit," one trader said.
Last week, the economy ministry said that Russia would suspend grain exports to neighbouring ex-Soviet countries until the end of August to further strengthen its food security.