Kazakhstan sees 2021 grain crop down due to drought

Kazakhstan expects its 2021 grain crop to fall by 24 per cent to 15.3 million tonnes after drought hit main producing regions of the Central Asian nation, acting Agriculture Minister Yerbol Karashokeyev told a government meeting Aug. 17.

Kazakhstan, the top grain producer in Central Asia, has been hit by dry and hot weather in summer, but high stocks and imports from Russia are expected to support its grain supplies in the 2021-22 season, which started on July 1.

“Due to the abnormal soil and atmospheric drought, the condition of grain sowings has deteriorated significantly this year,” Karashokeyev said, adding that Kazakh grain stocks were at 3.5 million tonnes, including 2.8 million tonnes of wheat.

Karashokeyev’s predecessor was fired in July with the Kazakh president saying the Agriculture Ministry had not done enough to tackle the impact of the drought.

The country has harvested 1.5 million tonnes of grain from 9.9 per cent of the area. The most active phase of the harvesting will start in the coming days.

Kazakhstan, which ships grain to neighbouring countries Iran, Afghanistan and to Black Sea ports, is expected to export 6.5 million to 7.0 million tonnes of grain, including flour, this season, Prime Minister Askar Mamin told the same meeting.

It exported around eight million tonnes in the 2020-21 season.

Increased demand from Kazakhstan is an important factor for farmers in Russia’s Siberia and Urals, which have also been hit by dry weather, this season, Sovecon consultancy has said.

Kazakhstan has a customs-free zone with Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter. Supplies to it are not subject to a grain export tax imposed by Moscow in June as part of measures the government hopes will help to stabilize domestic food inflation.

Kazakhstan banned exports of rye and limited exports of barley and wheat used for animal feed for six months from Aug. 15.

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