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Kazakhs seek high place as world wheat exporters
ALMATY , Kazakhstan said on Friday it planned to become the world's sixth-largest grain exporter after selling 5.5 million tonnes of wheat from this year's expected harvest of 12.5 million tonnes.
"If all goes well, Kazakhstan will be able to supply 5.5 million tonnes of wheat to world markets," Deputy Prime Minister Akhmetzhan Yesimov, who is also agriculture minister, told the Central Asian state's main Khabar television channel.
"Kazakhstan will become the world's sixth-largest wheat exporter, while Ukraine and Russia will export practically no grain (from this year's harvest)," he added.
Kazakhstan, a giant Central Asian state five times the size of France but populated by just 15 million, said last month it might export 5.2 million tonnes of grain from this year's crop.
Grain exports totalled 4.4 million tonnes in 2002. Official statistics show that Kazakhstan exported 2.637 million tonnes of wheat in the first five months of this year, a 45 percent rise on the same 2002 period.
The television report said Kazakhstan was currently selling its grain to 38 countries.
A senior grain official said earlier this year exports in the current season would mainly go to CIS countries, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Kazakhstan's giant northern neighbour Russia has said it may export up to 5.0 million tonnes of grain in the 2003/04 season, way below last year's exports of 17 million tonnes.
According to different estimates, Russia's grain crop may fall this year to 70-75 million tonnes from 86.6 million tonnes in 2002.
In Ukraine, once the bread basket of the Soviet Union, officials and analysts see a harvest of 23 to 26 million tonnes of grain, sharply down from last year's 38.8 million tonnes.
The country of 49 million is now considering imports of grain.
Citing a government meeting on grain held in the new capital Astana, television said the government had left unchanged its forecast for this year's grain harvest at 12.5 million tonnes. Last year's crop weighed in a record 15.96 million tonnes.
MGR Archive 21.7.2003
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