Draft Agrobusiness 2013-2020 Program under review
In a meeting with the Agrarian Committee of the Majilis (Parliament) on November 1 in Astana, Agriculture Minister Asylzhan Mamytbekov outlined planned subsidies for farming investment, private sector investment targets and draft laws on genetically modified farm products and the upgrading of Kazakhstan’s pasture lands.
The draft Agrobusiness Development Program for 2013-2020, aimed at maximizing the potential of Kazakhstan’s agroindustrial sector, includes Government investment of up to three trillion tenge (USD 20 billion), with the aim of attracting a further 10 trillion tenge (USD 66 billion) investment from the private sector.
Approximately 30 per cent of Government investment will take the form of subsidies to help Kazakh farmers upgrade their lands and production facilities. While such investment subsidies are a new departure in Kazakhstan, Governments of Western European and CIS countries routinely use them as a tool to support their agricultural sectors: for example, the Bashkir Republic in Russia subsidizes up to 50 per cent of the cost of opening a new milk farm.
The new subsidies are an essential support to Kazakhstani farmers engaged in sophisticated production such as milk farming, who would find it impossible to compete with foreign producers without such support, said the Minister. In southern Kazakhstan, subsidies will enable farmers to improve lands and introduce much-needed drip irrigation systems.
The head of the Land Resources Management Agency, Kadyrkhan Otarov, told the Committee that only a small proportion of Kazakhstan’s pasture lands are served by water distribution systems and, of those, only 15 per cent are in good working order. Subsidies will help pay for the upgrading of existing irrigation systems and the construction of new engineering facilities to raise and use high quality ground water across the vast pasture lands of Kazakhstan.
Mr Otarov updated the Committee on the drafting of a new law relating to pasture lands, and a number of pilot projects and credit programs to develop the pasture land infrastructure, which are being designed in conjunction with KazAgro National.
On the subject of genetically engineered crops, Minister Mamytbekov stressed that Kazakhstan will not allow the genetic modification of crops for human or animal consumption. The absence of genetic engineering has enabled Kazakhstani farmers to sell their products to European markets and the draft law on government regulation of genetic engineering will preserve the high quality and genetic purity of Kazakhstani agricultural products.
Kazakhstan is a significant producer and exporter of high-quality wheat. Average annual production is about 13 million tons. Between two and eight million tons is exported annually, mainly to Europe (including Russia and Ukraine), North Africa, Central Asia and Afghanistan. Kazakhstan also produces around two million tons of barley, and a small amount of oats, corn, and rice.
Like Russia, Kazakhstan was also affected by drought this year that reduced the grain harvest. However, thanks to carryover stocks, exports are still expected to be around eight million tonnes in the marketing year to June 30 2013.