September 23, 2011


Kazakhstan's grain harvest to reach 25 million tonnes



Kazakhstan's 2011 grain harvest may reach 25 million tonnes by bunker weight, according to an Agriculture Ministry official.


As good weather and better yields promise a record crop for the Central Asian state will subsidise exports this season to regain a foothold in Black Sea markets and help clear a potential grain glut at home.


Black Sea grain exports are expected to recover this season as favourable weather restores crops in Russia and Ukraine, keeping prices at a level that allows both countries to regain markets in the Middle East and North Africa from competitors.


Kazakhstan's Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that the country had threshed 19.9 million tonnes of grain by bunker weight as of Sept. 22, having collected the harvest from 77.5% of the sown area.


Asked by Reuters to forecast the 2011 harvest, Aman replied: "If we maintain a yield of 1.58 tonnes per hectare, it will be more. We could approach 25 million tonnes."


He later clarified his remarks to say he was referring to bunker weight. Used to measure the crop in the course of the harvesting, bunker weight is normally 5-7% higher than the clean weight obtained after grain is cleaned and dried, but the difference may be less in hot and dry years.


A crop on the scale forecast by Aman would be close to double the 12.2 million tonnes by clean weight harvested last year, when much of the former Soviet Union was badly affected by drought, and exceed the record 20.8 million-tonne haul of 2009.


Kazakhstan has sown 16.2 million hectares of grain for this year's crop. Three of the country's 14 provinces -- Akmola, Kostanai and North Kazakhstan -- account for around three quarters of the sown area.


Aman said that the quality of grain is high and he thinks 75-80% of grain will be third-grade (milling wheat) or higher.


Kazakh officials have said they expect the country to have at least 10 million tonnes of grain available for export in the current marketing year, which runs until June 30. It exported 5.9 million tonnes of wheat and flour in the 2010/11 season.


Vast distances to ports on the Black and Baltic Seas are an impediment to Kazakhstan's ability to compete with Russian and Ukrainian wheat in a typical season. This season, the government will subsidise Kazakh exporters by paying US$40 a tonne of the transport cost to port on wheat exports up to a total volume of 2.5 million tonnes.

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