WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.  — Kazakhstan’s grain production is expected to stay flat with the wheat planting area reaching a historical low as the nation continues its crop diversification strategy.

The wheat planted area is estimated at 11.2 million hectares and production is estimated at 14 million tonnes for 2019-20, flat from the previous marketing year, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The stable production reflects good soil moisture improving yields, despite the fact that wheat planted area continues to decline, reducing harvested area,” the USDA said in the report. “This year’s drop in wheat area sown comes from the ongoing government policy encouraging crop diversification, particularly toward oilseeds.”

Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Agriculture reported on June 11 that 14.3 million hectares of spring grain crops and 2.8 million hectares of oilseeds crops had been sown.

Wheat consumption is expected to remain unchanged in 2019-20 at 4.8 million tonnes. However, the USDA said a wheat processing project to produce gluten and starch might affect the numbers after reaching its full capacity.

Seed use is forecast to fall as planted area continues to shift slowly away from wheat. The livestock population has not grown enough to warrant increased feed use.

About 80% of wheat is used for food consumption, 7% for seeds and 11% for feed.

Wheat exports are expected to be flat at 7.5 million tonnes. Georgia has expressed interest in Kazakhstani wheat, in part to avoid dependence on Russian wheat imports, the USDA said.

From January to April, Kazakhstan exported 1.9 million tonnes of wheat. These exports mainly went to Central Asian countries (65%), China (6%) and Afghanistan (6%), according to the report.