DUSHANBE, March 31, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- The latest food price monitoring by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MEDT) shows that flour prices have fallen slightly in Tajikistan.

“Over the past week, flour prices have fallen at Dushanbe’s bazaars on average 0.9 percent, with similar price falls in other parts of the country,” said the source at a MEDT.  “The price of a 50-kilogram sack of imported superior quality wheat flour at local markets is now 142.50 somoni (0.6 percent fall) and the price for a 50-kilogram sack of domestic superior quality wheat flour is now 135.00 somoni (1.2 percent fall).  In the meantime, prices of imported and domestic grade 2 flour have remained the same – 129.30 ad 130.00 somoni respectively.”

The Ghalla (grain product) director Taghoymurod Sharipov attributes slight falls for flour prices to increase in wheat imports and fall in wheat prices in Kazakhstan, which provides the bulk of Tajikistan’s grain imports.

“Tajikistan in February imported wheat 20 percent more than in the same period last year, while flour imports have slightly fallen,” Sharipov said.

He added that it could not be ruled out that flour prices would continue to fall in the country.  “It is quite possible that entrepreneurs will lower flour prices by 5-10 percent in order to sell last year’s wheat crop as soon as possible, because it cannot be ruled that prices for the new crop of wheat will be even lower.”

According to the statistical data from Ghalla, Tajikistan imported 52,800 tons of wheat from Kazakhstan in February, which is 10,000 tons more than in February 2010 and 25,000 tons more than in January 2011.

We will recall that March 2011 edition of the Crop Prospects and Food Situation report released on March 23 says that in Central Asia, where Kazakhstan is the major producer, the bulk of the crop is yet to be sown but in view of current strong prices plantings are expected to be in line with the relatively high level of the past two years.  Assuming a recovery in yields after last year''s drought-reduced level, a significant increase in production could be achieved.

Meanwhile, specialists from the Tajik Ministry of Agriculture say 200,000 hectares have been allocated to cereals this year and local farmers are expected to produce no less than 1.2 million tons of cereals.  Grain production in Tajikistan exceeded one million tons for the first time in 2009.  In 2009, Tajik farmers produced more than 1.25 million tons of cereals, including almost 900,000 tons of wheat.  In 2008, Tajikistan produced 952,000 tons of cereals, including some 700,000 tons of wheat.

Tajikistan’s annual requirements in cereals are now more than 1.6 million tons, and therefore, the country every year imports up to 600,000 tons of wheat and flour.