October 27, 2011

Kazakhstan's grain export to reach 15 million tonnes


Kazakhstan is forecast to export over 15 million tonnes of grain from this year's crop, Agriculture Minister Asylzhan Mamytbekov said Wednesday (Oct 26).


Grain exports from Kazakhstan, the world's seventh-or eighth-largest wheat exporter in a typical season, will provide competition to Russian and Ukrainian suppliers in the Black Sea region this season.


"We have tallied up the grain balance and have counted more than 15 million tonnes that we will have available for sale," Mamytbekov told reporters in parliament.


The Central Asian country is officially forecasting a grain crop of between 22-23 million tonnes by clean weight this year, although recent ministry data suggests the harvest could be even bigger.


News agency Novosti-Kazakhstan cited ministry data as saying the harvest was 99.7 % complete and that 29.3 million tonnes of grain had been threshed as of Wednesday. The figure refers to bunker weight.


In Kazakhstan, bunker weight is traditionally around 10% higher than clean weight, obtained after the grain is cleaned and dried. This suggests that the crop could be even higher than these forecasts, exceeding 26 million tonnes.


Mamytbekov said the clean weight of the crop would only be known in mid-November.


Kazakhstan has sown 16.2 million hectares to grain for this year's crop, an area roughly the same size as Tunisia. This includes an area of 13.8 million hectares sown to its main crop, wheat.


The country harvested 12.2 million tonnes of grain in 2010, when the crop was badly affected by drought across large parts of the former Soviet Union. In 2009, it set the standing post-Soviet record of 20.8 million tonnes.


Kazakhstan exported 5.9 million tonnes of wheat and flour in the marketing year to June 30, 2011. The country traditionally exports around six million tonnes to its closest markets in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran and Azerbaijan.


Challenged by vast distances to ports on the Black and Baltic Seas, Kazakh wheat is often uncompetitive with Russian and Ukrainian grain.


But to help overcome this disadvantage, the government is paying a US$40 per tonne subsidy on rail shipments up to a total volume of 2.5 million tonnes this season. The country is also leasing extra wagons to deliver the grain to port.

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