Growing Grain Exports
Sept 01. MFA
Kazakhstan has steadily increased grain production and export capacity in recent years to become one of the main global centres of grain export. While the record harvests of 2009 and 2011 have not been repeated this year, exports are nonetheless on track to meet the 2012 target of 13 million tonnes.
Record harvests and increasing exports of grain in recent years, however, have highlighted problems which must be resolved if growth is to continue: chief among these is the dearth of transport options and open ports. The effort to address this issue gained momentum in 2009, when five billion tenge of state funding was allocated to improve rail transport services for exports through Russia, followed by a similar drive on facilitating exports to China. These measures have borne fruit in export growth and the 2012 allocation of state funds includes 10 billion tenge to further improve export routes.
The efficiency of exporting through the two ports of Kuryk and Bautino has also been improved by the construction of state-of-the-art grain terminals, equipped with cutting-edge technology – which means they can operate around the clock. The Baku Grain Terminal, a joint venture between Azerbaijan’s “Planeta L” and Kazakhstan’s “AkBiday Terminal” which began construction in 2006, now supplies grain to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and North Africa. The terminal has a capacity of 600,000 tons per year and can hold 22,500 tons at any one time. In 2012 to date, 16,702,342 tons of grain has been sold through the Baku Terminal.
Another terminal, AkBiday, is one of the first facilities to be created as part of the program “Developing Kazakhstan’s grain export infrastructure on the Caspian Sea and Black Sea.” Built by JSC “National Company Prodkorporatsiya,” this terminal has created a stable export base to broaden the scope of Kazakhstan’s grain exports: while its main market is Iran, it also serves Turkey, Greece, Albania, Cyprus, Italy and Georgia. The AkBiday terminal is also a key element of the Aktau-Baku-Poti transport corridor which is currently under construction and which, on completion, will further enhance Kazakhstan’s position as grain exporter to Azerbaijan and adjoining Georgia and Turkey.
In the six years since the AkBiday terminal opened, a total of 1.9 million tons of grain has been processed for export. The annual figure has grown from 36,200 tons in 2005 to 500,000 tons in 2012. Kazakhstan legislation ensures that any grain exporter can gain access to the terminal; grain transfer agreements are currently in place with five companies, four of them freight forwarders, which in 2011 were used by 20 different companies.
In 2008 Kazakhstan and Iran joined forces to build the Kish Grain Terminal at Amirabad in northern Iran, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Joint shareholders are Iran’s LLC ‘BekhdizTedzheratAlborz’ and Kazakhstan’s JSC “AkBiday Terminal.” The terminal loads up to 4,000 tons of grain from sea vessels to railway and other transport each day and can store up to 53,000 tons in 14 silos. Kazakhstan now aims to export up to 700,000 tons of grain per year to Iran.
With the ability to produce between 14-22 million tons of wheat and internal demand of just 7-8 million tons, Kazakhstan has the potential to export from 7 to 14 million tons of high-quality wheat each year. The ‘National Company Prodkorporatsiya’ is planning a railway grain terminal in Gorgon, on the border with Turkmenistan and Iran, in order to increase exports to Iran and the Caspian area. Plans are also well underway to increase the Aktau grain terminal’s capacity to 1 million tonnes, which will further underpin Kazakhstan’s ability to maintain its position as a major global exporter of grain.