Kazakh grain harvest good despite droughts

Kazakh grain harvest good despite droughts - Central Asia News Afghanistan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Tajikistan Turkmenistan-Sports Business and Entertainment

Naubet Bisenov

2008-10-16

ASTANA, Oct. 8 – Kazakhstan has reaped a good grain harvest this year despite droughts in some regions.

The country harvested 17.2 million tons, Agriculture Minister Akylbek Kurishbayev said in a recent interview with Ekspress-K. “This figure may fuel suspicion because there were droughts in many regions. We should note, however, that 80 percent of the country’s wheat is cultivated in Kostanay and Akmola regions in the north, which did not experience droughts,” he said.

Kazakhstan’s southern, south-eastern and eastern regions had record-low harvests this year due to severe droughts, but their outputs aren’t significant nationally.

Although the country harvested less than last year’s record 20.1 million tons, the share of high-quality grain is 91 percent of the total harvest (against 75 percent on average), which will allow Kazakhstan to maintain exports of such grains at 6 million tons.

In an effort to prevent bread shortages, the Kazakh government established grain stabilisation funds after last April, when it was forced to ban grain exports until a new harvest.

New legislation will require farmers to sell grain to the government at market prices even when low quantities threaten the country’s food security. To prevent grain price increases under such circumstances, they will face fines and lose subsidies. Statistics on stocks of grain elevators and agricultural producers will also be double-checked by special inspectors to avoid fraud.

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