TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN — The Uzbekistan government on April 4 said it plans to buy up to 600,000 tonnes of grain, mainly from neighboring Kazakhstan, to increase its state stockpiles and ensure food security.

The decision comes as global food prices soar due to numerous factors, including supply chain problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine, two of the world’s largest grain exporters.

The notice said Uzbekistan plans to purchase 100,000 tonnes of wheat, including flour, from Kazakhstan from April through July. Uzbekistan is perennially one of the world’s largest wheat flour importers.

Uzbekistan’s wheat production is expected to decline in the 2021-22 marketing year, which ends June 30, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture. It pegs the country’s wheat output at 5.5 million tonnes, down from 6.2 million the previous year.

The USDA also projects slight reductions in Uzbekistan’s corn and barley crops this year.