Saudi Arabian Grain Imports Seen Declining to 12.8 Million Tons

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest barley buyer, may cut grain imports by 5.9 percent in the current 2012-13 marketing year, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization forecast.

Shipments are poised to drop to 12.8 million metric tons in the year through June from 13.6 million tons in the prior period, the Rome-based UN agency wrote in a report on its website dated yesterday.

Saudi Arabia plans to expand wheat-storage capacity by 27 percent over the next three years from 2.52 million tons, lifting its reserves to a year of consumption from 10 months now, according to the FAO. The country is phasing out wheat cultivation by 2016 to preserve water.

Wheat imports in 2012-13 are forecast to be 2.3 million tons, partly for use in animal feed to substitute for barley and yellow corn, the FAO said. Barley deliveries are expected to be 7.2 million tons and corn purchases are seen at 2.2 million tons, the report showed.

The country harvested an estimated 1 million tons of wheat this year, compared with 1.1 million tons in 2011, according to the FAO.

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