Kazakhstan Lowers Grain Exports To Curb Inflation

Kazakhstan lowered its exportable grain surplus by 14 per cent to six million tonnes this season after diverting extra stocks to battle rising inflation, Agriculture Ministry officials said Mar. 17.

Kazakhstan, the world’s seventh- largest wheat exporter, had previously said it would have seven million tonnes of grain available for export in the current season, which runs from July 2010 to June 2011.

It exported 8.4 million tonnes in the previous marketing year.

“Thanks to the introduction of new technology we harvested a good enough crop in 2010, despite the drought, to meet domestic demand and have export potential of up to six million tonnes,” said Yevgeny Aman, executive secretary at the ministry.

Black Sea wheat shipments have fallen dramatically in the current marketing year after a summer drought ravaged crops across the former Soviet Union, prompting a rush from consumers in North Africa and elsewhere to secure alternative supplies.

The new forecast suggests that Kazakh grain will be in short supply until the new crop. Agriculture Minister Akylbek Kurishbayev said this month the country had already exported five million tonnes in the current marketing year.

Anna Buts, director of the ministry’s farming development department, told reporters about 2.9 million tonnes of last year’s crop of 12.2 million tonnes had been added to Kazakhstan’s grain reserves to stabilize bread and flour prices.

“A large amount of grain was diverted from the market and this has had an effect on export opportunities,” Buts said.

Kazakhstan is forecasting a 2011 harvest of between 15 million and 16 million tonnes, helped by plentiful snow cover. Soil moisture levels are satisfactory, the ministry has said.

While this would be a significant improvement on last year’s drought-hit crop, it would still fall far short of the record 20.8 million tonnes harvested in 2009.

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