ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN – Kazakhstan is forecast to export more grain in 2017 than the previous year, according to the country’s deputy minister of agriculture, Nurzhan Altayev.

During a meeting of the parliament on Dec. 11, Altayev said Kazakhstan will export about 9.1 million tonnes of grain this year, which is 400,000 tonnes more than in 2016.

In December, Kazakhstan plans to export 1.3 million tonnes of grain, he said. He added that the country intends to use 16,500 freight cars during the month.

“Currently, tariffs of Kazakhstan railways are fixed at the level of 9,000 tenge per wagon per day,” the deputy minister said. “We will subsidize grain transportation within Kazakhstan to increase the competitiveness of export of Kazakh grain from January 1. Nearly 9.7 billion tenge is allocated for this purpose.”

A major wheat producer in the Black Sea region, Kazakhstan is projected to produce nearly 15 million tonnes of wheat in the 2016-17 crop year, with about half of that total being exported, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. It is the highest production total since 2008-09, when the country’s wheat output was 17 million tonnes.