GIEWS Country Brief: Kyrgyzstan 20-May-2020

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  1. Favourable production prospects for 2020 winter wheat crops

  2. Bumper cereal output obtained in 2019

  3. Wheat import requirements in 2019/20 forecast above average level

  4. Prices of wheat flour and potatoes increased in March and April amid strong demand due to COVID ‑ 19 concerns

Favourable production prospects for 2020 winter wheat crops

Harvesting of the 2020 winter wheat crop is expected to begin in June and, according to satellite‑based imagery, conditions of crops in early May were favourable across the country (see ASI map).

Planting of the 2020 maize and spring wheat crops is ongoing under favourable weather conditions and harvesting will start in August and September, respectively.

Bumper cereal output obtained in 2019

Harvesting of the 2019 cereal crops finalized last October and the total cereal output is estimated at 1.8 million tonnes, 7 percent above the five‑year average and the second highest outcome of the last ten years. The result is due to well above‑average maize and barley outputs, officially estimated at 712 000 and 466 000 tonnes, respectively, mainly due to large plantings. By contrast, the 2019 production of wheat, following a progressive reduction in the area planted, is set at 601 000 tonnes, 7 percent below the average level.

Wheat import requirements in 2019/20 forecast above average level

In the 2019/20 marketing year (July/June), wheat import requirements, accounting on average for 95 percent of the total annual cereal purchases and for almost half of the domestic consumption needs of wheat, are forecast at 620 000 tonnes, about 10 percent above the average volume in order to compensate for the reduced domestic output.

In response to the COVID‑19 pandemic (see box below), the State Material Reserves Fund signed an agreement with the Food Corporation of the Russian Federation for the acquisition of 33 000 tonnes of wheat, to be delivered through May 2020, with the aim to boost domestic reserves. In addition, the Government of Kazakhstan has provided 5 000 tonnes of wheat flour to the country as food aid.

Prices of wheat flour and potatoes increased in March and April amid strong demand due to COVID‑19 concerns

Retail prices of wheat flour increased between October and December 2019, remained stable in the first two months of 2020 and steeply rose again in March and April. The recent increases stem from an upsurge in consumer demand from mid‑March, amid concerns over the COVID‑19 pandemic and export limitations imposed by the Government of Kazakhstan , the main wheat supplier to the country. The depreciation of the local currency, which lost more than 10 percent of its value against the US dollar between February and April, provided further upward pressure on prices. In April, wheat prices were well above their year‑earlier levels, reflecting year on year higher export quotations from Kazakhstan and a decrease in the 2019 domestic harvest.

Prices of potatoes, another important food staple, seasonally increased between November 2019 and April 2020. Prices increased particularly in March and April, reaching levels twice as high as twelve months earlier, due to strong demand from consumers, fearing supply shortages as a result of the pandemic, which exacerbated seasonal trends.

In response to the COVID‑19 pandemic (see box below) and in an effort to counter over pricing, the Government implemented a number of measures. These measures include the introduction, on 16 March 2020, of temporary ceilings on prices of food items (wheat flour), the imposition of a six‑month ban on exports of a range of products (wheat grain, wheat flour, rice, vegetable oils and sugar) and the exemption from VAT , on 15 April 2020, of imported wheat flour and wheat grain for processing until 1 January 2025.

COVID‑19 and measures adopted by the Government

In response to the COVID‑19 pandemic, thermal scans were installed on 22 January 2020 at all checkpoints on the border with China and at Manas international airport. Information on preventive measures was provided from 4 February 2020 in various education institutions and borders were closed on 17 March 2020.

On 23 March 2020, the State of Emergency was declared, imposing a partial lockdown, curfew and quarantine measures.

The Government initiated a number of policy measures aimed at mitigating the negative impact of COVID‑19 on the economy as well as to meet food security, agriculture and livelihood needs of the affected population. These measures include an action plan on the provision of economic and social stabilization for 2020 and a joint plan on food security and nutrition. In addition, the Disaster Response Coordination Unit (DRCU) Council provides support in six priority sectors: early recovery, food security and logistics, health, protection, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and non‑food items (NFI).

Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Industry and Melioration issued a Decree for the development of a National Programme on import substitution to ensure food security and reduce the country's dependency on food imports.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.