Briefs March 1, 2012

Kazakhstan expects sharp decline in 2012 grain crop

astana/reuters / Kazakhstan expects its grain harvest to revert to an average level of between 13 million and 15 million tonnes this year, a sharp decline from the record post-Soviet crop of 2011, Deputy Agriculture Minister Muslim Umiryayev said Feb. 21.

Central Asia’s largest wheat exporter harvested 27 million tonnes of grain by clean weight last year, its largest crop since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. In drought-hit 2010, the harvest was only 12.2 million tonnes.

“We are forecasting the 2012 harvest at an average level of 13 million to 15 million tonnes,” Umiryayev told a news conference. He later specified this level as the average for the last 12 years.

The ministry said in a statement that the total area sown to grain in Kazakhstan was expected to reach 16.3 million hectares in 2012, slightly more than the 16.2 million hectares last year.

Within this total, the area sown to wheat in 2012 would decline to 13.5 million hectares from 13.8 million tonnes last year, the ministry said.

Bunge profit beats estimate

reuters / Agricultural processor Bunge posted a higher-than expected quarterly profit, helped by higher prices and volumes in sugar cane milling, along with better results in oilseed processing in Asia, Europe and South America.

Bunge’s performance was somewhat of a bright spot for the agricultural industry, which has seen top traders like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill report weaker-than-expected results due to volatile markets and economic uncertainty.

Yet the company, which earned $254 million for the fourth quarter, struck a cautious tone for 2012, saying it expected the year to be “challenging,” with margins for soy processing remaining uncertain.

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