The Kazakhs Agricultural Ministry has introduced quotas for the export of wheat and flour, the Ministry said in a statement on April 17.
The new restrictions are scheduled to come into force within 2 weeks and are designed to last until June 15, 2022. Kazakhstan is the largest grain exporter in Central Asia, supplying wheat to Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Export supplies are limited to 1 million tonnes of wheat. Besides, exporters are obliged to sell 10% of this figure to the Food Corporation, which collects reserve stock of grain in Kazakhstan.
In an earlier statement, the Ministry explained that grain export restrictions were necessary in order to protect the domestic market. Over the past several weeks, Kazakh farmers were reluctant to sell grain to local companies, since export prices appeared to be more attractive, the Ministry added.
The Kazakh feed market has been in turmoil due to restrictions on grain export to the Eurasia Union introduced by Russia in March. As explained by Yevgeny Karabanov, a spokesperson for the Grain Union of Kazakhstan, Russian grain was cheaper compared to that of Kazakh farmers.
There is enough grain in the republic. We urge everyone not to create a stir
Speaking during a press conference on April 11, Kazakh deputy Agricultural Minister Aidarbek Saparov ensured that no grain shortage was expected.
“There is enough grain in the republic. We urge everyone not to create a stir,” Saparov said, referring to the reports suggesting that several mills across the country suspended operation due to the lack of grain.
Saparov added that the country had enough grain to meet the domestic demand, and deliver some quantities for export.
Kazakhstan has joined a long list of countries embarking on export restrictions since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis.
As estimated by the World Bank, the number of countries slapping on food-export restrictions jumped by 25%, bringing the total number of countries to 35 as of early April. In total, 53 new policy interventions affecting food trade had been imposed – of which 31 restricted exports, and 9 involved curbs on wheat exports
Some Central Asian countries have already raised concerns over the tightening supplies and rising prices.
For instance, Uzbekistan announced it was seeking to import 600,000 tonnes of grain for the state reserve, including 100,000 tonnes of wheat from Kazakhstan. In 2021, Uzbekistan imported 2.7 million tonnes of grain from Kazakhstan.
In March, the Uzbek Agricultural Ministry promised that the domestic market would remain stable despite the Russian export restrictions.