Kazakhstan, central Asia’s largest grain producer, is expected to harvest around 15 million tonnes of grain by bunker weight this year, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said on Tuesday.
“We believe that this year’s crop will be above average,” the official told Reuters, requesting anonymity. “Wheat traditionally makes up around 90% of the crop, so we expect it will weigh in at some 13.5 million tonnes or more.”
After drying and cleaning, clean-weight grain harvests in Kazakhstan are typically 5 to 10 percent smaller than bunker-weight crops. Hit by a severe drought, Kazakhstan’s grain harvest more than halved to 12.9 million tonnes by clean weight last year from a post-Soviet record of 27.0 million tonnes in 2011.
“This year’s crop is in a good condition,” the official said. “It has rained a lot so far this year, and the weather forecast for the upcoming week is also good, so we are optimistic for the time being.” Kazakhstan is the size of Western Europe but populated by only 17 million. Millions of hectares of land were sown for grain during the Soviet Union’s “Virgin Lands” campaign in the 1950-60s.
The region’s main grain belt is in the north, and in neighbouring Russia’s Urals and Siberian regions. “Weather forecasters expect rains and thunder storms in the main grain-growing areas next week, which is good for our future bread, although rains are a bit late this year which has affected wheat productivity. But in general we expect a good year,” the Kazakh official said.