Kazakhstan hopes to export 15 million tonnes of grain

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Kazakhstan exported around 4.1 million tonnes of grain and flour in the four months to Dec. 31, the Agriculture Ministry said Jan. 24, saying a lack of rail cars was a bottleneck as the pace appeared to lag behind its forecasts for the full year.

Kazakhstan is among the world’s top 10 exporters of wheat and for the last few years has been its largest flour exporter.

“According to our forecasts, the export potential of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the 2011/12 marketing year will total around 15 million tonnes,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Muslim Umiryayev told a news conference .

“To realize in full the country’s export potential of 15 million tonnes a year, it is necessary to ensure that a total of 10.2 million tonnes, including flour and 8.7 million tonnes of grain proper, must be loaded for exports by July 1 of the current year,” the ministry said in an analytical note.

The vast steppe nation of 16.7 million people, which covers an area five times the size of France, harvested a post-Soviet record grain crop of 26.9 million tonnes last year.

The harvest was more than double the amount of grain produced in 2010, when drought damaged crops across the Black Sea grain region.

Kazakhstan exported 5.9 million tonnes of wheat and flour in the previous marketing year to June 30, 2011.

70 customer countries

An official at state-owned grain trader the Food Contract Corporation (FCC) said last month the country would not manage to export more than 10 million tonnes, including flour in grain equivalent, out of the potential 15 million.

Umiryayev said Kazakh grain was currently exported to more than 70 countries.

“Traditional markets for Kazakh grain are Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iran. Besides, Egypt is a market for Kazakh grain this year, as well as countries of the Mediterranean region and Belarus,” he said.

Umiryayev said Kazakhstan’s export potential allows it to meet the 15 million-tonne target this year but added, “The availability of railcars for grain shipments remains a bottleneck.”

Agriculture Ministry data released January 30 showed that Kazakhstan has a total of 5,200 rail cars for shipping grain, of which only 4,500 are in satisfactory condition.

“At the same time, a total of 10,500 railcars are needed for grain exports,” the ministry said.

“For these purposes, a total of 2,880 railcars have been borrowed abroad for grain shipments,” it added.

Umiryayev said that to facilitate exports from landlocked Kazakhstan, the government was considering subsidizing the costs of shipping grain across Russia to terminals on the Sea of Azov as well as the Black Sea and Baltic Sea starting in March.

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