The quality of Kazakh grain is an extremely ambiguous issue – experts




Kazakhstan has an ambiguous situation with the quality of grain of the new crop. Due to the difficult weather conditions, experts expect a large wave of sprouted wheat, some of which will not even be used for feed. On the other hand, farmers who have large stocks of high-quality wheat of the 2022 harvest can benefit – prices for it can soar much higher than the current ones. This was discussed at the third international conference "Asia Grains&Oils Conference in Tashkent 2023" in Tashkent, which gathered more than 200 participants of the grain and oil markets of Central Asia.

"This year, the situation with the quality of wheat is difficult. We started the analysis within the framework of the quality map in the middle of August and tested about 90 samples of milling wheat and 50 samples of barley. But for the last 2 weeks, due to the rains in the grain-planting regions, as you know, harvesting was suspended, so our analysis reflects the results of wheat quality before the rainy season. Now the situation with quality is, one might say, deplorable," Saltanat Orazova, Head of the Laboratory of the Department of the Agro-Industrial Complex of SGS Kazakhstan Ltd, said at the conference.

According to SGS, the Kazakh wheat of the 2023 crop, harvested before the rainy season, has a higher protein content (>14.5%) and gluten (>32.2%). However, due to the drought during the vegetation period, the natural weight is quite low and averages 77.1 kg/hl.

"Natural weight is an important indicator, it demonstrates the yield of flour from this wheat. Each decrease of 1 kg of raw weight reduces flour yield by 0.05%, which is a big loss on a production scale," S. Orazova noted.

According to the conference participants – traders and agricultural producers – many Kazakh farmers now take their grain (collected before the rains) from the elevators in order to prevent it from mixing with wet wheat. They also want to preserve high-quality dry wheat for further sale and planting in the coming year.

"Most likely, this gorgeous wheat will not be exported, but will remain in the country," market participants expressed their opinion during the "Asia Grains&Oils Conference in Tashkent 2023."

According to Daulet Uvashev, Director of the trading company Harvest Kazakhstan LLP, such a situation plays into the hands of farmers and traders. They have large stocks of hi-pro wheat of the 2022 harvest – with a high protein content and good natural weight. Prices for wheat of this quality in Kazakhstan may rise to 150`000 tenge/t, D. Uvashev believes.

The representative of SGS Kazakhstan Ltd noted that the dispersion of yield in different regions of Kazakhstan is very large. Thus, in the Akmola region, the yield of wheat can be about 0.55 t/ha, while in some areas of the Kostanay region, it can reach 2.0-2.5 t/ha.

"But, unfortunately, due to heavy rainfall, the wheat remained in the field and, most likely, it will no longer be harvested because the grain has started to germinate in the ear," suggested S. Orazova.

According to SGS Kazakhstan's assessment, the share of germinated grain in the total wheat production in Kazakhstan will be from 5% to 15%, but there are areas where this indicator reaches 50%-60%. There were no such figures even in 2019 when there were similar weather conditions, the expert noted.

Some germinated grains, according to experts, cannot even be fed to livestock due to the high content of mycotoxins and aflatoxins.

However, there were moderate optimists among the participants of the conference.

"I wouldn’t go that far about the future situation. In the last 3-4 days, the harvesting campaign is in full swing. Most likely, everything that is in the windrows is lost, but we hope to remove what is in the ear. I would like to draw attention to the fact that now not a single farmer is ready to sell what has already been threshed, due to the unclear situation of what will happen next. There will be a time lag when there seems to be some threshing, but there will be no real offers until the producer understands the quantity and quality of the harvested grain before and after the rains,” said Sergey Domaev, director of the B-Agro Sever LLP company, which deals with both crop production and trading.

He noted that the quality issue is very ambiguous, even within the context of one region and one farm, not to mention the whole country.

“Of course, if the precipitation continues, the situation will worsen – both in quality and quantity,” summed up S. Domaev.