Heavy snowfall has boosted hopes for Kazakhstan's grains harvest,
contrasting with setbacks in some other major producing nations, and prompting
the country to urge action to boost its creaking storage infrastructure.
The snows which have accompanied bitter temperatures, which have
fallen below -30 degrees Celsius this winter, hitting north east China too,
have "created conditions for moisture accumulation in the soil for a future
crop", Muslim Umiryayev, the Kazak deputy agriculture minister, said.
This "allows us to make optimistic forecasts for the 2013
While falling short of forecasting production, Mr Umiryayev said
that the healthy prospects underlined the need to prepare to store the crop.
Factoring in carryover stocks from 2012-13 expected at 4.7m
tonnes, and "also an expected good grain harvest this year, it is necessary to
consider beforehand and take all measures to ensure proper storage", he said.
Farm ministry data forecast Kazakhstan farmers - who are forced
by the harsh winters to rely on spring crops - sowing 15.9m hectares of grains
This includes 13.1m hectares of wheat, with barley making up
most of the other acreage.
The wheat forecast represents a 2% decline year on year, and
is below the 13.5m hectares forecast by the International Grains Council, on a harvested
basis, in line with that last year.
Nonetheless, the better prospects for Kazakh grains - which were
hurt by drought last year, sending output down by more than one-half to 12.8m
tonnes – contrasts with setbacks to winter crops in countries such as Russia
and the US, where seedlings are threatened by drought, besides in parts of the European Union, beset by too much rain.
Mr Umiryayev's comments came as he said that Kazakhstan has
the potential to export about 7m tonnes of grains in 2012-13.
The US Department of Agriculture foresees Kazakh wheat
exports at 7.0m tonnes, with a further 200,000 tonnes of barley on top, while
the IGC estimates total grain shipments at 7.2m tonnes.
"Destinations for our exports are traditional - Central
Asian markets, Afghanistan and Iran, as well as other traditional buyers in
Europe and North Africa like in the last marketing year," he said.
However, ideas are growing of Kazakh exports to neighbouring
Russia, whose own supplies have been depleted by a rapid export programme early
Russia is "lusting after" Kazakh wheat, consultancy Agritel