Competitiveness Of Kazakh Grain On The Global Market Is Declining
Several years ago, wheat with high protein content was in high demand in the EU. However, Kazakh grain quality declined significantly over the last seasons affecting export potential. Eugenia Kazbekova acting as business manager of agricultural department at SGS Kazakhstan told as about grain quality of 2016 crop.
– Kazakhstan harvested more than 50% of the crop. How is the grain quality?
Farmers harvested about 70% of the crop. Wheat in most of Northern regions has low gluten content due to weather conditions. Since the start of vegetation and up to the middle of the process rains stimulated plant growth, but also diseases development (Septoria spot and brown rust) in part of the regions. After that hot and dry weather affected synthesis of reserve protein and gluten formation.
According to forecast, more than 20% of wheat crop can be of 3 grade (gluten exceeding 23%). The main portion – about 30% – will be 4 grade (gluten lower than 23%). We confirm this by our analysis, average gluten content in samples we tested is 23.1% in Kostanay, 22.3% in North Kazakhstan Region, 23.4% in Akmola Region.
– Farmers from North and South point the adverse weather (rains/drought) that does not let farmers to have qualitative crop of 3 grade. How weather conditions influenced on grain quality this year in comparison to 2015?
Kazakhstan is a zone of risk agriculture due to severely continental climate over the main part of the country. Central regions where the main crop is produced have short vegetation period – a shade over 3 months. Thus any delay or protracting of planting campaign and early frosts damage drop prospects.
In 2015, planting campaign was extended up to mid-June that affected grain vegetation. 20-30% of the crop had not matured when harvest started. There was a lot of farinaceous grain that is bad for millers.
In 2016, rainy June-July caused diseases development preventing healthy spike growth. Currently several regions faced rains and lowering of temperature meaning that farmers will reap wet grain.
Thus, soft wheat has many problems with quality. Durum wheat significantly varies in quality. We have to point low protein content.
– What diseases are the most widely spread in Kazakhstan and why?
In 2016, as I mentioned above, we faced Septoria spot and brown rust. These diseases are traditional. Their abundance depends on precipitation volume especially if rains occur during the chemical treatment and prevent crop protection activity.
Fungal diseases such as fusarium due to excessive moisture also hurt grains during vegetation. We expect to face absinthial flavor as abundant rains lowered efficiency of herbicide treatment.
– What wheat grade will prevail this year?
Last years despite some wet weather harm, farmers harvested high protein (˃14%) and high gluten (˃23%) grain. 3-grade wheat prevailed. This year the forecasts as to 3 grade is very pessimistic.
– Are the any problems with quality for export?
Each country-importer has its own list of quarantine objects. For example, for China it includes:
– bugs: grain weevil, corn bug, khapra beetle, potato beetle etc;
– grain diseases (fungal): wheat alternaria blight, pink rot, dwarf bunt of wheat, winter wheat mosaic etc;
– wilding seeds: ragweed, perennial ragweed, oatgrass, common bugloss, bearded darnel, maiden cane etc.
Iran bans 26 types of wilding seeds that are toxic or poisonous.
Currently we could not estimate presence of these objects in Kazakh grain as we have not yet analyzed high number of samples. However, there will be official list of quarantine objects as the summer was mainly wet.
– How can geography of export change due to quality problems?
Market channels for Kazakh grain are restricted by neighboring countries due to geographical location. China traditional buys high quality 3 grade wheat (min protein 14%, min gluten 23%), while these is a lack of the grain in Kazakhstan. Iran needs wheat with high gluten content and there is a shortage of the product. However, if Iran maintains barley quotas Kazakhstan will export to the country as much grain as last year.
– How can you estimate competitiveness of Kazakh grain on the global market over the last years?
Competitiveness of Kazakh grain on the global market is declining due to lower quality. European countries used to import our high protein grain to mix with own low protein, but now it is problematic. It’s not just the weather, but also lack of high quality seeds and suitable equipment.
Interviewed by Yulia Schevchenko