KAZAKHSTAN- Favorable conditions for spring grain planting will likely see Kazakhstan harvest 14 million tonnes of wheat in the marketing year 2023-24, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture.

According to the latest FAS Post report, the forecast for wheat is 1 million tonnes higher than FAS Post Astana’s original outlook in April with no significant changes to the planted area at 12.9 million hectares. 

This acreage is about 10,000 more hectares than in 2022-23, during which Kazakhstan is estimated to have produced 16.4 million tonnes of wheat.

Wheat is the largest produced crop in Kazakhstan by acreage, accounting for approximately 80% of grain production in the country, exporting a significant percentage to countries like  Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Italy, China, and Turkey. 

For the marketing year 2023-24, wheat exports are seen at 9.5 million tonnes, the same as 2022-23 estimates, but higher than the 8.09 million tonnes shipped in 2021-22. 

Additionally, the 2.99 million tonnes beginning stocks are significantly higher than the 1.49 million tonnes in 2022-23, the result of export restrictions imposed in yea 2021-22.

Producers and exporters noted that challenges they faced in 2022-23 of limited rail capacity, outdated infrastructure, and delayed Value Added Tax (VAT) reimbursements would continue affecting wheat exports in 2023-24,” FAS said. 

Domestic wheat consumption for the Central Asian nation’s 19 million people is projected at 6.8 million tonnes, a number expected to remain stable for the next few years, according to traders. 

In April 2023, Kazakhstan implemented a six-month ban on wheat imports by road in response to competition from Russia. 

However, earlier this month, Astana Times reported that Kazakhstan and China are planning to increase the volume of annual grain exports to China to 1 million tons. 

This was discussed during the meeting between Minister of Agriculture Yerbol Karashukeyev and Ze Zhu, the vice president of China’s COFCO food processing holding company, the ministry’s press service reported on July 13.

According to the minister all previous export contracts between COFCO Group and the Kazhak Food Contract Corporation, including a 75,000-ton wheat supply contract, will be fulfilled. 

Barley outlook hopeful as well 

According to the FAS report, the production of Barley, another important crop in Kazakhstan, also showed promise this spring, with FAS expecting a harvest of 3 million tonnes for 2023-24 from 2.35 million planted hectares. 

While this is down from 3.3 million tonnes the previous year, it is up from 2.36 million tonnes in 2021-22. 

Barley consumption, which is mainly used for animal feed, is estimated at 2 million tonnes in 2023-24. However, it is also sold to brewers and distillers all over the world. 

According to the USDA, Iran, Uzbekistan, and China are the biggest export markets for Kazakh barley.

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