HomeNewsIn 2021 potato imports in Kazakhstan reached the highest level in recent years — EastFruit
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In 2021 potato imports in Kazakhstan reached the highest level in recent years – EastFruit

According to EastFruit analysts, Kazakhstan decreased by 50% the volume of potato exports, and increased its imports by 2.6 times in the first eight months of 2021. The geography of potato exports and imports has also significantly changed.

“2021 is a very unusual year for the potato market in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It started with a relatively low price level in many countries of the region, except for the Russian Federation, as due to lockdowns, there was again an excess of potatoes in Europe, that were not demanded by the producers of French fries. These potatoes were exported by EU countries, especially the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany at very low prices. Weather conditions during the growing season of potatoes also turned out to be unfavorable in such large producing countries as Russia and Belarus. Therefore, potato prices soared to record levels during the harvesting and the impressive imports started” explains Andriy Yarmak, economist at the Investment Centre of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“Kazakhstan imported late potatoes from Russia, and early ones from Uzbekistan in 2020. Kazakh potatoes are exported mainly to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. However, potatoes in Russia were too expensive in 2021 – prices almost always doubled the level of 2020-2019. Therefore, Kazakh importers had to look for alternatives to Russian potatoes, and prices in their domestic market also remained relatively high, negatively affecting exports,” the expert explains.

As a result, the main volumes of potatoes in 2021 Kazakhstan imported from Pakistan and Iran. Even Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan exported a relatively large volume to Kazakhstan – 1.3 and 0.8 thousand tons, respectively. Even Georgia that supplied 200 tons appeared among the large exporters of potatoes to Kazakhstan for the first time.

As can be seen in the above graph, the situation with potato prices in the Russian Federation did not improve even after the harvest. Moreover, the gap with 2019-2020 prices continues to increase. Accordingly, Kazakhstan will not be able to count on supplies of potatoes from Russia in the 2021/22 season either.

Part of the potato harvest from the northern regions of the country is exported to the Russian market, which may lead to a new growth in potato prices in winter. There are active shipments of potatoes from Kazakhstan to Russia reported.

It remains to hope that the southern regions of Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries will increase the area planted with early potatoes, which would help contain the price rise in spring. In the meantime, potato prices in the region remain higher than last year and continue to grow rapidly.

Uzbekistan is expected to renew the record for potato imports again by the end of 2021. According to our estimates, Kazakhstan has also been importing a record volume of potatoes over the past six years. Accordingly, the exports of potatoes will also be close to the anti-record.


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