Issues of crop production and further development of the grain industry were discussed by experts at the site at the Institute of Economic Research. The meeting participants identified the most important problems and tried to find a way out of them. For example, the head of the Grain Union believes that in the next 2-3 years we risk completely losing the domestic market. The real solvent foreign sales market, he said, is only China, reports the APK News agency.
As Ruslan Sultanov, Chairman of the Board of the Economic Research Institute (ERI), noted, work is currently underway in Kazakhstan on top-level strategic documents - the National Development Plan until 2029 and Strategy 2050. The next step will be updating sectoral plans. In this direction, it is important to understand the relevance of the goals being set.
Director of the ERI Center for Industry Analysis, Timur Useev, presented the official forecast of socio-economic development until 2028, as well as a draft map of cause-and-effect relationships based on the problems of the crop production industry set out in the Concept of development of the agro-industrial complex of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2021 - 2030.
“According to the base scenario, with a national currency exchange rate of 460 tenge per $1 and an oil price of $80 per barrel, by 2029, annual GDP is projected to more than double to a level of 218.5 trillion tenge or $474.9 billion. At the same time, the average annual growth in the agro-industrial complex will be 4.5%, the share of processed products in the agro-industrial complex will reach 70%, and annual exports will reach at least $7 billion,” said Timur Useev.
Experts agree on the highest priority problems in the Kazakh crop industry:
non-compliance with agricultural technologies (lack of funds, competencies),
lack of agricultural machinery (lack of funds),
lack of personnel (young people do not connect their future with the village),
shortage of working capital (high overhead costs),
low level of cooperation.
When the main problems were named, the participants began discussing ways to solve them.
Chairman of the Union of Field Growers of Kazakhstan Viktor Aslanov said that based on the experience of developing the Concept for the Development of the Agro-Industrial Complex until 2025, on which a lot of time was spent, and which in the end was actually “nullified,” it is important when drawing up program documents to remember that the real executors are farmers and proceed from from their capabilities. At the same time, it is necessary to divide activities into two baskets - what can be achieved through business and what cannot.
Chairman of the Grain Union of Kazakhstan Nurlan Ospanov noted that Kazakhstan lacks the flexibility to timely revise previously approved plans or ineffective decisions in accordance with the current situation, especially now in conditions of intense competition.
“In the medium term of 2-3 years, we risk completely losing the domestic market. The set bar looks unrealistic. It must be taken into account that today only China is a real solvent foreign market for us. In other traditional southern directions, there are certain infrastructural limitations for increasing exports. When introducing anti-crisis measures, for example, deferment of loans for agricultural entities, it is necessary to take into account the specifics of the industry - the production cycle can take up to 3 years. In general, the agricultural policy to support the development of the sector should be targeted separately for medium and large entities that have agricultural services, technologies, certain finances and for small farms, which are usually guided by the simplest technological maps (purchase of seeds and fuels and lubricants),” says N. Ospanov.
Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Exporters “KazGrain” Zeinolla Abdumanapov expressed the opinion that it is necessary to develop domestic agricultural science in the country.
“For example, grain yields in Kazakhstan’s border regions are 2-3 times lower compared to neighboring Russian regions (15-25 c/ha versus 40-50 c/ha). It is necessary to work on eliminating barriers to exports,” says Z. Abdumanapov.
Scientists present at the meeting pointed out the need for proper funding.
“Today, primary seed production is practically uncontrolled, which limits the production of seeds of high-quality varieties adapted to local conditions. Due to the absence or weakness of agronomic services and the lack of methodological developments, the yield potential of seeds often does not correspond to the intended yield potential of the variety. Proper funding for this area, and these are relatively insignificant amounts, will significantly increase productivity,” said Associate Professor of the Department of Plant Science at the Kazakh Agrotechnical University. S. Seifullina Nina Shestakova.
At the same time, the emphasis in science must be placed on domestic developments, taking into account local conditions. Foreign experience in this regard is not indicative.
“Financing of research institutes on crop production must be carried out as a priority, and not on a residual basis, and necessarily taking into account the seasonality of agricultural work (timely financing),” noted Galiolla Meirman, Deputy Chairman of the Board for Innovation of the Kazakh Research Institute of Agriculture and Plant Growing LLP.
“We need to rely on science. In the recently approved Comprehensive Plan for the Development of Mechanical Engineering in the Republic of Kazakhstan until 2030, it is planned to create a unified information system of machines used in our agro-industrial complex on the basis of the Scientific and Production Center of Agricultural Engineering LLP (formerly the Kazakh Research Institute of Mechanization and Electrification of Agriculture),” said the Director of the Executive Directorate of the Union of Mechanical Engineers Kazakhstan Umirserik Erzhanov.
Chairman of the Board of the National Agricultural Movement SHOPAN ATA Almazbek Sadyrbay, who was also present at the meeting, noted that we, in fact, “are in conditions of war.”
“The domestic market is under unprecedented pressure. Small and medium-sized farms in the Pavlodar region, for example, are curtailing production to 50%; greenhouse farms in the Turkestan region are being abandoned en masse. Refinancing of loans issued by the Agrarian Credit Corporation and Kazagrofinance is critically necessary (the total loan portfolio is more than 1 trillion tenge, the total annual volume of repaid funds is about 200 billion tenge). Today, the conditions for refinancing (increasing the rate to 25%) are such that, for example, livestock farms are forced to slaughter up to 70% of the breeding stock of cattle,” said A. Sadyrbay.
The discussion participants also touched upon the topic of recycling. Experts believe that achieving 70% processing in the agricultural sector is a very ambitious goal.
“The goal is very ambitious, given the limited financial capabilities in the industry and the need to preserve land fertility for future generations (the main resource). When considering agricultural issues, a comprehensive interdepartmental approach is required. Without solving the problems of agricultural production, it is impossible to solve the problem of increasing the degree of their processing. To reduce import dependence, it is necessary to assess the country’s need for agricultural crops from the point of view of food security, the required volumes of socially important food products and export volumes. Next, you need to set priorities in terms of goods and concentrate subsidies (about 400 billion tenge per year) on selected goods. It is advisable to form and maintain a rating of conscientious agricultural producers and responsible land users based on a set of indicators that exclude the subjective human factor,” said Takhmina Nagumanova, vice-president of the Union of Chemists of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Chairman of the Israel-Kazakhstan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Michael Rohe noted that Kazakhstan has enormous potential for the development of the agro-industrial complex, including exports (up to $20-30 billion). It is necessary to turn to the Israeli experience in managing this industry, thanks to which the country is fully self-sufficient in food and annually exports agricultural products worth about $1 billion. Moreover, the area of Israel is 130 times smaller than the area of Kazakhstan.
“Based on my more than 20 years of experience in running agribusiness in Kazakhstan, I can state that there is no decision-making system in the country. Therefore, it is especially worth paying attention to the Israeli experience of creating a network of regional Centers of Excellence in Agriculture, which provide rational planning, timely development and implementation of the most effective technologies and methods, personnel training, and marketing support for rural businesses. In addition, it is advisable to apply the experience of farming in the form of cooperatives, which are widely used in the world.”
Participants in the open dialogue separately discussed examples of successful cooperation in Kazakhstan, both in a narrow sense (farm cooperatives) and in a broader sense (for example, cooperatives between producers, processors and traders). It is advisable to disseminate the successful experience of agricultural parks, as well as credit partnerships. It is also necessary to simplify (expand) the concept of cooperation used today in Kazakhstani legislation.
Experts who took part in the open dialogue note the exceptional usefulness of the discussion platform provided by the Institute. All proposals voiced will be analyzed and applied in ERI’s analytical activities. The participants agreed to continue joint consultations on the issues discussed.