Kazakhstan’s waning grain harvest

JULY 20, 2011 – Drought will produce a poorer grain harvest this year but for Kazakhstan this does not mean disaster.

The statement by Muslim Umiryayev, Kazakhstan’s deputy
agriculture minister, sounded ominous (July 17).

He said that drought this year means Kazakhstan will
produce only around 14m tonnes of grain, 3m tonnes lower
than the annual average for the past decade and almost
half the amount of last year’s post-Soviet record harvest.

This is a trend that has impacted most of the world’s
major grain producers and pushed prices for wheat futures
up to a four-year high.

Grain has become increasingly important to the Kazakh
economy over the past few years but a lower harvest this
year is by no means a disaster and will be off-set by
higher global prices.

Kazakhstan is traditionally the world’s sixth largest
grain exporter, it consumes only about 2.5m tonnes of its
grain harvest a year. Like its other products, though,
exporting the grain to clients is one of Kazakhstan’s
biggest headache. Recently, Kazakhstan has advanced plans
to ship more grain to Iran and China.

In 2011, Kazakhstan harvested a record 27m tonnes of
grain. Stockpiles from this harvest will cushion any
shortfall and Mr Umiryayev said there were no plans to
impose an export quota.

So, although the grain harvest this year is undoubtedly
disappointing — “alarming” was Mr Umiryayev’s description
— last year’s bumper harvest and higher global prices
mean disappointment will not also mean disaster.

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This story was first publish in issue 19 of the weekly Kazakhstan News Extra. For more information click here

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