Suspicion is growing in Astana that regional officials have inflated grain production figures in their reports to the Kazakh agriculture ministry.
If the ministry's suspicions are proved correct, it would mean that Kazakhstan's 2012 grain harvest is likely to come in even lower than the 14.8m tonnes of wheat forecast on November 12. That prediction itself is seen as woeful, given that it's around half the record 26.9m tonnes gathered last year.
Speaking to journalists in Astana this week, Deputy Agriculture Minister Muslim Umiryayev said that the ministry's own research suggests a significant shortfall on the ground. "What causes the Agriculture Ministry concern is that we have a discrepancy of 1.4m tonnes," Umiryayev said, according to Reuters.
While Kazakhstan's three main grain producing regions - Akmola, Kostanai and North Kazakhstan - have reported expected harvests totaling 11.2m tonnes, satellite images indicate the crop at just 9.8m. The ministry says it plans to launch an investigation, which should be complete within the next month.
It also noted that Kazakhstan is likely to cut its official 2012-13 grain export forecast if the harvest is lower than previously believed.
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