March 31 (Reuters) - Russia will ban exports of sunflower seeds from Friday until the end of August and impose an export quota on sunflower oil to avoid shortages and ease pressure on domestic prices, its agriculture ministry said on Thursday.
"With sharp growth in global prices for sunflower oil and oilseeds, there is currently increased demand for the Russian product," Russia's agriculture ministry said in a statement.
Seed exports will be banned from April 1 to Aug. 31 and an export quota of 1.5 million tonnes will be imposed on sunflower oil from April 15 to Aug. 31, the ministry said. There will also be a 700,000-tonne export quota for sunflower meal, it added.
Ukraine and Russia are the world's largest sunflower oil producers, with India among major customers.
India contracted to buy 45,000 tonnes of Russian sunflower oil at a record high price for shipments in April as edible oil prices in the local market surged after supplies from Ukraine stopped, industry officials told Reuters this week.
Russia's agriculture ministry said last week that Moscow should set export quotas for sunflower oil to "maintain the stability" of domestic supply. Russia is taking steps to safeguard its food market after the West imposed sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.
"This set of measures will eliminate the possibility of shortages, as well as sharp increases in the cost of raw materials and socially important products in Russia," the ministry said on Thursday.
A Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm said the restrictions would keep prices elevated.
But, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press, he said the restrictions were unlikely to affect Indian buying as Ukraine's exports have already stopped and quantities available from Russia were not enough to meet demand.
Russian crude sunflower oil is offered at a record price of $2,150 a tonne, including cost, insurance and freight (CIF), in India for April shipments, compared with $1,767 for soyoil and $1720 for crude palm oil, dealers said.
Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Jon Boyle, Jan Harvey and Barbara Lewis