Kazakhstan extends quotas on grain exports
Nur-Sultan, June 14 (EFE).- Kazakhstan, the largest republic in Central Asia and the main producer of grain in the region, has decided to extend the quotas imposed on grain exports in a bid to shield the national market and that of its neighbors.
“Kazakhstan plans to extend quotas on grain and flour exports from June 15 to September 1,” Agriculture Minister Yerbol Karashukeev said.
Thus, the Cento-Asian country will export only 1 million tons of wheat.
Currently, the cost of a ton of wheat in Kazakhstan is about $400, while last year it was $215 per ton.
By the end of the year, the price per ton could range between 300 and 480 dollars, Victor Aslanov, head of Kazakhstan’s cereal and oil crops research agency, told Efe.
He noted that Kazakhstan expects to harvest approximately 13 million tons of wheat this year.
Yevgeny Karabanov, an analyst at the Kazakhstan Grain Union, said several factors influenced the increase in wheat prices this year.
First of all, the rise is due to the close link between the currencies of Kazakhstan and Russia, which actively interact within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, made up of six economies of the post-Soviet space.
Prices also started to grow due to the increase in the cost of spare parts for agricultural machinery, whose supplies were affected by the sanctions against Russia and the modification of logistics chains.
Finally, the increase in the cost of wheat was due to the scarcity of seeds, which, in turn, was caused by a drought in 2021.
Still, Kazakhstan maintains its position as the largest producer of wheat in Central Asia, mainly due to its vast farmland and continental climate, which contributes to the formation of high gluten content of more than 40%.
“The traditional export markets for Kazakh grain are the neighboring countries: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as Afghanistan,” Aslanov says.
This year, Iran also “renewed its interest” in Kazakh wheat, he added.
In total, about 85% of Kazakh exports go to Central Asian countries, while 15% is divided between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran.
Turkey and some European countries have also bought limited amounts of Kazakh organic grain in the past to improve floue quality.
Karabanov recalls that after 2008, Kazakhstan “was left out” of the global grain market not only because of the drought and the consequent decline in the harvest but also because of the growing “regional market” that consumes all Kazakh production.
In the last decade, the population of neighboring Uzbekistan grew by 20%, and that of Tajikistan and Afghanistan, by 30%, explains the expert.
However, experts agree that Kazakh wheat is not an alternative to Ukrainian, since the Central Asian republic has a much smaller production than Ukraine, which is mainly directed to its neighbors.
In addition, if the Kazakh grain reaches buyers in Europe, “it will literally be worth its weight in gold,” which is not profitable for either party, notes Karabanov, who believes that Central Asia and Afghanistan will remain the priority markets for Kazakhstan. EFE