ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN — Wheat planting area in Kazakhstan in 2019-20 is expected to reach its lowest level since 2004 at 11.2 million hectares as the country continues its crop diversification strategy, according to an April 24 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

While planting area for wheat is forecast to decline, the USDA projects expanded acreage for corn, barley, oats and feed crops.

Wheat production is forecast at 14 million tonnes, virtually unchanged from the previous year, while 2019-20 barley output is pegged at a record 4 million tonnes.

In March, the Kazakhstan Ministry of Agriculture forecast the total sown area for grain for 2019-20 at 22.3 million hectares, up about 200,000 hectares.

In 2018-19, Kazakhstan is ranked as the world’s 12th largest wheat producer and is No. 8 in barley output, according to the USDA.