Kazakhstan Cuts Grain Export Forecast as Drought Shrivels Crops

Kazakhstan, the biggest wheat producer in Central Asia, lowered its grain export forecast for this season and sees prices rising after drought cut the harvest by about 55 percent.

Grain exports may fall to 8 million metric tons from a previous target of 10 million tons, according to a statement from the Kazakh Agriculture Ministry today. The crop may shrink to 12 million tons after drying and cleaning this year, from a record 26.9 million tons last year.

The slumping harvest caused a surge in local wheat prices to $280 a ton in the first 10 days of October from $155 a ton in July, Yevgeny Aman, the ministry’s executive secretary, said today during a government meeting in the Kazakh capital Astana. At Black Sea ports, the price rose to $350 a ton from $270.

Kazakhstan, the biggest wheat producer in Central Asia, has about 9.8 million tons of grain left from last year, which with this year’s harvest is enough to meet domestic demand and export grain, Aman said. After last year’s crop, Kazakh grain exports more than doubled in the marketing year that ended June 30 to 12.1 million tons, the ministry said July 10.

“About 4.5 million tons of wheat and about 2.3 million tons of flour calculated in grain equivalent will be shipped abroad” in the marketing year, which started July 1, Grain Union President Nurlan Tleubayev said during the government meeting. “All together, 6.5 million to 7 million tons.”

Stockpile Sales

Farmers have brought in crops from 15 million hectares, or 99.7 percent of the planted area, and milled about 14 million tons of grain in bunker weight so far, according to the ministry. The average yield per hectare declined to 960 kilograms this year from 1,530 kilograms in 2011 as dry weather damaged crops.

Kazakhstan’s state grain trader started to sell 1.3 million tons of stockpiled cereals to local millers on Aug. 1 to cap bread prices after the drought hurt the country’s main growing regions. The amount is 50 percent of domestic demand. JSC National Co. Food Contract Corp., which is supplying grain during the year at a fixed price of 28,000 tenge ($186) a ton, has already sold 247,400 tons, the Agriculture Ministry said today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Svetlana Antoncheva in Astana, Kazakhstan at santoncheva1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hellmuth Tromm at htromm@bloomberg.net

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