September 24, 2013
After raising its grain crop forecast to 18.5 million tonnes, Kazakhstan can export up to 9.5 million tonnes in the 2013-14 marketing year.
This is according to Agriculture Minister Asylzhan Mamytbekov on Monday (Sep 16).
The nation had planned to reap 16.3 million tonnes of grain by clean weight this year. It had previously forecast grain exports of seven million to eight million tonnes in the current crop year.
Kazakhstan had threshed 14 million tonnes of grain from 11.19 million hectares to date, or 71% of the total sown area, Agriculture Ministry data showed on Monday.
Yields have averaged 1.25 tonnes/hectare, up from 1.19 tonnes as of September 18 and well above last year's yields of below one tonne per hectare.
Kazakhstan annually consumes between seven million and eight million tonnes of grain, Mamytbekov said.
"Taking this (higher harvest) into account, we plan that our export potential will also rise … to above annual average and reach between 9.0 million and 9.5 million tonnes," he said.
Kazakhstan sells its grain, particularly wheat and wheat flour, to neighbouring countries of post-Soviet Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan.
Exports of grain and flour in grain equivalent by rail fell to 1.39 million tonnes between the start of the current crop season year on July 1 and September 20 from 1.87 million tonnes in the same period a year ago, Agriculture Ministry data showed.
The country exports the bulk of its grain by rail. The Caspian Sea port of Aktau in western Kazakhstan accounts for between 500,000 tonnes and 600,000 tonnes of grain annually.
During the Soviet Union's "Virgin Lands" campaign of the 1950-60s, Kazakhstan's wild steppes were sown with grain. It exported 7.1 million tonnes of grain in the 2012-13 crop season, down from a record 12.1 million tonnes in the previous season.
Lower exports last marketing year followed a poor grain crop in 2012, which more than halved to 12.9 million tonnes by clean weight from a post-Soviet record of 27.0 million tonnes in 2011.
Heavy rains have delayed this year's harvesting campaign in the main grain-growing regions in northern Kazakhstan. The harvest is expected to be over by late October.
Of the total amount of grain threshed, only two million tonnes have reached elevators to date, Mamytbekov said.
A better grain crop this year means that Kazakhstan's state grain trader, The Food Contract Corporation, has not had to make any significant interventions on the local market so far, where bread prices have been stable.