Kazakhstan, the largest grain producer and exporter in Central Asia, has announced a ban on wheat imports by road and rail for six months, starting from September 1, 2023. The decision was made by the Ministry of Agriculture to protect the domestic market and support local farmers, who are expecting a record harvest this year.
According to the ministry, the ban will apply to wheat imports from third countries and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) countries, which include Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan. Kazakhstan is a major supplier of wheat to its EAEU partners, especially Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which together accounted for more than 80% of its wheat exports in 2021.
The ministry said that the ban was necessary to prevent the inflow of cheap wheat from Russia, which is also expecting a bumper crop this year. Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and has a significant price advantage over Kazakhstan due to its lower production costs and transportation fees. In 2021, Kazakhstan imported $215 million worth of wheat from Russia, which was more than 99% of its total wheat imports.
The ban is expected to boost the domestic prices of wheat and flour in Kazakhstan, which have been falling due to the oversupply in the market. The ministry said that the ban will help stabilize the prices and ensure the profitability of local farmers, who have invested heavily in improving their yields and quality. The ministry also said that the ban will not affect the food security or inflation in the country, as there is enough wheat stock to meet the domestic demand.
Kazakhstan is one of the world’s top 10 wheat producers and exporters, with an average annual output of about 15 million tons and exports of about 8 million tons. In 2021, Kazakhstan produced $944 million worth of wheat, making it the 10th most exported product in the country. The country has about 30% of its land under agricultural production, of which about 70% is used for growing wheat.
The ministry said that it expects a record wheat harvest of about 20 million tons in 2023, thanks to favorable weather conditions and increased use of modern machinery and technology. The ministry said that it plans to increase the exports of wheat and flour to new markets, such as China, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan, as well as to expand the processing and value-added industries in the country.