26 Oct 2022 16:24

Russia could strengthen presence on grain markets of countries of Central Asia, Caspian Sea area - exporters' union

TASHKENT. Oct 26 (Interfax) - Russia plans to strengthen its positions on the grain and flour markets of countries of Central Asia and the Caspian Sea area and is prepared to formulate competitive offers for each of them, Russian Union of Grain Exporters CEO Eduard Zernin said.

"The countries of Central Asia and the Caspian basin are strategic markets for supplies of Russian grain and flour," Zernin said at the Caspian & Central Asia Grain Forum in Tashkent on Wednesday.

Population growth on the one hand and adverse climate changes in the region in terms of agriculture on the other hand are contributing to the development of mutually beneficial trade relations between Russia and these countries, he said.

"We look on the strengthening of our presence in the region with optimism and are prepared to formulate competitive offers for each country," Zernin said.

According to the forum's organizers, growth in birth rates in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will contribute to further raising demand for imports of grain and oilseeds. Tajikistan will according to forecasts boost wheat imports from 1.1 million tonnes in 2021 to 1.4 million tonnes in 2024. Uzbekistan boosted wheat and flour purchases more than 30% year-on-year in January-May 2022 alone. At the same time, around 90% of grain imports to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan come from Kazakhstan.

However, Kazakhstan's export capabilities could drop, or it could even become more dependent on grain imports, the forum's organizers said, citing the Food and Agriculture Organization. "There is an entirely realistic and negative scenario of the water shortage worsening in Kazakhstan and wheat yields falling almost 40% by as soon as 2030. Wheat production in Kazakhstan could fall in that case to approximately 8 million tonnes [16.4 million tonnes were harvested in 2021, including rice and pulses], which would increase the country's dependence on imports," they said.

The forum's business program is concentrated on the grain and oilseed markets of Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Iran.