DUSHANBE, February 25, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- It is unprofitable for Tajikistan to work with Russian grain traders, Ghalla (grain products) director Taghoymurod Sharipov told Asia-Plus in an interview.

He says it is unprofitable to import grains and flour from Russia due to high shipment prices.  “According to our estimates, the cost of one ton of flour imported from Russia is higher at least by US$60.00-US$70.00 than the cost of one ton of flour delivered from Kazakhstan,” said Sharipov, “Therefore, we are in no hurry to conclude contracts with Russian grain and flour suppliers.”

Since Kazakhstan now accounts for 52 percent of Tajikistan’s grain and flour imports, the domestic grain and flour prices in Tajikistan will depend on grain and flour prices in this country, he added.

“The problem is Kazakhstan’s grain stocks are decreasing that means that Kazakhstan may impose an embargo on grain exports in order to protect its domestic market,” the Ghalla director said.

According to Kazakhstan’s Agency for Statistics, there is 6,497,446 tons of food wheat left over in the country, which is 46 percent fewer than in the same period last year (12,162,090 tons).

In the meantime, the price for a 50-kilgoram sack of Kazakh flour at Tajikistan’s is now 140-145 somoni, which is 15-20 somoni more than in January.

The Kazakh-Zerno news agency reports current wholesale prices for one ton of wheat flour grade 1 and one ton of wheat grade 3 have increased by US$18.00-US$20.00.  Current price of one ton of wheat flour grade 1 at the Sary-Agash railway station, which is the main point of shipping grains and flour to Tajikistan, is US$465.00 and current price of one ton wheat grade 3 at the station is US$365.00.  The cost of shipment of ton of flour and or wheat from the Sary-Agash station to the Dushanbe-1 station in Dushanbe is US$60-US$70.

Current Tajikistan’s annual requirements in cereals amount to more than 1.6 million tons and to meet its requirements in cereals, Tajikistan imports up to 600,000 tons of grains and flour annually, primarily from Kazakhstan.  According to the statistical data from the Ministry of Agriculture, all categories of farms last year produced 1.261 million tons of cereals, including 911,821 tons of wheat.  In 2010, Tajikistan imported 442,800 tons of wheat and 371,600 tons of flour.