Turkmenistan foresees increase in 1999 grain output

by Teresa Acklin
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   ASHGABAT, TURKMENISTAN — Turkmenistan expects to produce 1.3 million tonnes of grain this year, slightly more than in 1998, despite a drop in planted area, according to the country's Agriculture Ministry.

   The area planted to grain in 1999 was 565,000 hectares. Last year, Turkmenistan produced produced 1.2 million tonnes from 630,000 hectares planted. A spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry said the higher yields would be achieved through increased use of fertilizer.

   Turkmenistan plans to export grain in 2000 by increasing production to 2.0 million tonnes. In recent years, the Central Asian state has had to use up scarce hard currency reserves to import grain to meet domestic demand.

   The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated Turkmenistan's total domestic wheat consumption in 1998 at 1.05 million tonnes. The country's total wheat imports in 1998 were down slightly to 300,000 tonnes, compared with 500,000 tonnes in 1997. Most imports came from other Commonwealth of Independent States countries like Kazakhstan and Ukraine.