Lack of infrastructure and shortage of carriages hamper Kazakh grain export
Kazakhstan, Astana, April 3 / Trend D. Mukhtarov /
At present, the main difficulties faced by Kazakhstan while exporting its grain, is the lack of necessary infrastructure in the direction where there is demand for these goods, as well as the shortage of railway wagons, president of the Kazakh Grain Union Nurlan Tleubayev said in an exclusive interview with Trend.
He said that at present, Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf countries have a great demand for Kazakh wheat.
"Today, the demand for Kazakh wheat in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Persian Gulf countries is three times more than our export opportunities," head of the Kazakh Grain Union said. "Taking into account the demand worth 23 million tons, our export potential is only 13 million tons. Unfortunately, we have no proper infrastructure in this favorable direction."
He recalled that Kazakhstan exported its grain to Iran through the existing railway in early 1990s, which passed through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and reached Siraks in Iran.
"We shipped 100,000 tons of grain per month through this route in 2001," he said. "The amount reached 1.2 million tons. But there were difficulties on this route four years ago.
Iran did not have its own carriages and the carriages with our grain sent to this country return only after 40-60 days. This was not welcomed by the railway men. We can only get covered carriages, but it was inconvenient, as the grain was spoiled."
Moreover, the difficulty occurred when unloading carriages, as Iran and Kazakhstan have different railway gauge. The trucks were used in Iran to unload the carriages. This increased the downtime of carriages.
He stressed that another infrastructure problem when exporting Kazakh grain is limited opportunities of Aktau seaport.
"The second route for our grain export goes through the Caspian Sea, port of Aktau," the expert said. "The goods are delivered in carriages, but only one dock is used during its loading. The second dock can not be built. So, the ships are loaded for almost two days despite their capacity."
He said that there is another route - towards the Black Sea and Baltic Sea through Russia.
"But the transit through Russia costs us about $ 100 and we ship there only because there is an infrastructure," Tleubayev stressed.
The head of the Kazakh Grain Union said that a new railway Uzen (Kazakhstan) - Kyzylkaya-Bereket-Etrek (Turkmenistan) - Gorgan (Iran) will be a great salvation for Kazakh seed vessels.
"The new railway Uzen - Kyzylkaya - Bereket - Etrek-Gorgan would save us," he added. "The road must be constructed in October this year. Then our grain will be shipped through the shortest and beneficial way to the Persian Gulf."
It was reported that a land plot has been rented for the Kazakh National Grain Company Food Corporation to construct a grain elevator.
The Food Corporation aims to expand its markets. It has obtained a land plot to rent in Iran's border province. It will build a grain elevator in partnership with the Iranian company.
In the same way, the Food Corporation has already built a grain terminal in the Iranian port of Amirabad with the Iranian company.
Kazakh grain will be delivered to the new elevator by railway wagons. Afterwards, it will be shipped away by vehicles to other elevators, including those located on the Persian Gulf.
Iran is ready to receive 200,000 tons of Kazakh grain per month. At present, the republic delivers only 50,000-65,000 tons of grain per month through the port of Amirabad.
Iran is a lucrative market for Kazakhstan. The price of our grain is not less than $200 per ton, while it is only $140 per ton in the ports of the Black Sea.
It was previously reported that the total cost of the Kazakh part of the railway is 65 billion tenge ($ 1 - 147.7 tenge). The total length of the railway line is 686 kilometers, through the territory of Kazakhstan - 146 kilometers, Turkmenistan - 470 kilometers Iran - 70 kilometers.
It is known that the Central Asia countries need this corridor. All of them, except Turkmenistan, have no way to the sea. However, Iran is the main transit way to the Middle East via Turkey - to Europe, as well as to Pakistan, India, South-East Asia.
Chronic problems with the capacity of the railway through Tashkent forced Kazakhstan to seek an alternative. In May 2007, the Kazakh and Turkmen presidents signed an agreement on the construction of the railway "Uzen-Gyzylgaya-Etrek-Gorgan".
Kazakhstan's export potential will increase. According to the Statistics Agency, Kazakhstan can export up to 2 million tons of grain to Iran through the existing transportation corridors. For example, Kazakhstan exported about 1 million tons to Iran in 2009 and about 200,000 tons from January to March of 2010. "Uzen-Gorgan" railway will allow Kazakhstan to increase the transit and export potential of grain up to 3 million tons.