ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN — Wheat production and exports are forecast to fall in 2018-19 in Kazakhstan, according to a Aug. 1 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wheat output is projected at 14 million tonnes, about 800,000 tonnes lower than in 2017-18, the report said.

“The slight drop in the forecast is because wheat sown area continues to decline, reducing harvested area and production,” the USDA said. “This year’s drop in wheat area sown comes not only from the ongoing government policy encouraging crop diversification, but also from unusually cold spring weather.”

Wheat exports are forecast at 8 million tonnes, about 500,000 tonnes less than in 2017-18, due to continuing difficulties meeting export contract quality requirements, the USDA said.

“Both quantity and quality in this year’s crop could suffer from the cold spring weather,” the USDA said.

Also of note in the report was the country’s efforts to promote wheat flour exports to Central Asian countries.

The USDA said a joint inter-governmental bilateral commission between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan agreed to set lower railway tariffs to transport Kazakh wheat and flour through Uzbekistan between Keles and Galaba railway stations at a 20% discount. At the same time, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy offers 20% discounts for Kazkh wheat and flour exports destined for Afghanistan on the new line through Turkmenistan.

In addition, Afghanistan cut its import duty on Kazakh wheat and flour to 5% in April. The wheat import duty was further slashed to 2.5% for Afghan millers processing Kazakh wheat into flour, the report said.