CHICAGO (B)--Kazakhstan's 2000 to 2001, July to June, wheat production and export forecasts have been increased to 9.1 million tonnes and 4 million, respectively, according to the U.S. agricultural attache in Almaty. Production and exports should be similar in 2001 to 2002. For 2000 to 2001, barley exports are forecast at 500,000 tonnes, mostly to Russia and Iran. Locusts, fuel shortages and machinery breakdowns are some of the issues facing growers.

Kazakhstan's 2000 to 2001 total grain production estimate has been increased 1 million tonnes to 11.6 million based on final official data, the attache said in a report dated March 22.

Final total grain production includes: 9.1 million tonnes of wheat, 1.7 million of barley, 247,000 of corn, 213,000 of rice and 340,000 other grains. Total 2000 to 2001 grain production was about 3 million tonnes below last year's production due to weather problems and continued problems with input supply.

For 2001 to 2002, total grain production officially is forecast at 11.5 million tonnes, including 9 million of wheat, 1.7 million of barley, 250,000 of rice, 200,000 of corn and 350,000 of other grains.

The lack of capital and credit to purchase inputs, especially diesel fuel and machinery, will continue to limit production. Wheat exports for 2001 to 2002 wheat exports are forecast at 4 million tonnes.

Following lengthy discussions between the Ministry of Agriculture and the State Agency on Statistics, Kazakhstan's 2000 to 2001 official wheat production estimate has been increased 1 million tonnes to 9.1 million.

MOA officials argued that actual wheat area was higher than reported area because farmers were under-reporting area to avoid taxation. As part of this dialogue, the estimate of harvested area was increased 800,000 hectares. The final report also indicated that poor harvest weather and the chronic fuel shortage had a smaller impact on production than originally thought.

The official 2001 to 2002 wheat production forecast is 9 million tonnes. Specialists expect sown area and production to be similar to 2000 to 2001 levels and note that good snow cover in all wheat areas will provide better moisture reserves. The price and availability of fuel remains a crucial factor to the success of the spring sowing campaign.

According to ministry of agriculture reports, more than 7.6 million hectares were sprayed for locust during 2000 to 2001 at an estimated cost of $25 million. Specialists expect 2001 to 2002 infestation to be reduce due to last year's campaign and natural factors. Even so, the GOK plans to allocate another $20 million for the 2001 to 2002 locust campaign. The plan is to spray at least 4.5 million hectares.

A large part of this allocation ($13 million) will be used to purchase insecticides, $6 million will go for spraying and $1 million for monitoring. There is some concern that continued spraying will prove to be both expensive and detrimental.

In an effort to increase fuel availability during the sowing campaign, the government recently temporarily banned the export of diesel fuel. In addition, as a result of price increases, the government is planning to subsidize about one-third of the fuel required for spring sowing. Even so, specialists expect fuel problems will delay sowing and field work. Shortages of machinery and spare parts is another serious problem.

About 80% of Kazakhstan's tractors and combines are more than ten years old but farms do not have sufficient capital (or credit) to replace equipment. To address this situation, the government plans to lease about one thousand tractors on 3-to-5 year basis.

Of the 4 million tonnes of wheat Kazakhstan is expected to export in 2000 to 2001, about 1.5 million will be to Russia and most of the rest to other republics of the former Soviet Union: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, etc. A few sales will be made to Italy and Turkey, as well as 200,000 to Iran and 300,000 to Afghanistan.

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