Agriculture in Kazakhstan
Agriculture in Kazakhstan remains a small scale sector of Kazakhstan's economy. Agriculture's contribution to the GDP is under 10% - it was recorded as 6.7%, and as occupying only 20% of labor. At the same time, more than 70% of its land is occupied in crops and animal husbandry. Compared to North America, a relatively small percentage of land is used for crops, with the percentage being higher in the north of the country. 70% of the agricultural land is permanent pastureland.
Kazakhstan's largest crop is wheat, which it exports. It ranks as the sixth largest wheat producer in the world. Minor crops include barley, cotton, sugar beets, sunflowers, flax, and rice. Agricultural lands in Kazakhstan were depleted of their nutrients during the Virgin Lands Campaign during the Soviet era. This continues to impact production today. Kazakh wine is produced in the mountains east of Almaty.
In 2011 the country had achieved record grain harvests of 26.9 million tonnes, exceeding the previous record of 21mn tonnes recorded in 2009. For 2012, the Kazakh Agriculture Ministry cut the crop forecast to only 14 million tons because of dry weather.
Animals raised in Kazakhstan include cattle, chickens, sheep, pigs, horses and goats (in descending order of numbers). Meat production in tons was highest in cows, pork, mutton(meat), chicken, and "other meat." Wool, cow milk, and eggs are the other major animal products of the country.
Kazakhstan has the largest wolf population of any nation in the world, with about 90,000.
In March 2015 the Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan said that Kazakhstan had almost doubled the agricultural production in the past 5 years. He also noted that the agricultural exports had increased by 1.6 times during that period and had reached 3 billion USD.
Agribusiness - 2020
In February 2013, the Government of Kazakhstan approved a new sectoral program of agro-industrial complex development for 2013-2020 “Agribusiness – 2020” at a session chaired by Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov. The Agribusiness-2020 Program aims at developing four dimensions: financial recovery, increase of affordability of products, works and services for the agro-industrial sector entities, development of the state system of agricultural producers support, improvement of efficiency of the state management system of the agro-industrial complex.
In line with the Agribusiness-2020 Program the Government of Kazakhstan approved one stimulation package in April 2014: the rules of subsidizing efforts to restore agricultural companies to health. In the first half of 2014 it is planned to provide 140 billion tenge ($770 million) to second-tier banks for this purpose. Experts doubt that capital subsidies alone can provide a remedy to Kazakhstan's agricultural development challenges. Instead, more encompassing institutional reforms such as improvements in the rural education system and a devolution of political power to local decision makers are recommended.
Kazakhstan is one of the world’s major wheat and flour exporters. It is among the 10 largest wheat producers. The main grain crop is milling wheat, which is typically high in quality and protein. There is a growing trend for Kazakhstan to export its grain internationally. In 2011, the country netted a record crop – nearly 27m tonnes, which enabled it to set its grain export target at nearly 15m tonnes for the 2011/2012 marketing year. FAS/Astana forecasts Kazakhstan’s wheat production in 2014 at 14.5 million tons, up from 13.9 million tons in 2013.
Long-term production trends
In 2013, the Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture released a Master Plan for “The stabilization of the grain market”. This Plan is in support of their Agribusiness – 2020 program and in it the Ministry sets goals and projections for grain production, consumption and exports between 2013-2020. A few key trends shown in these projections include:
- The Ministry projects sown area for all grains to stay relatively steady over this period, falling only slightly.
- There is projected to be a sizeable shift from wheat, with wheat area projected to fall 2 million hectares (14 percent) from 13.5 million hectares in 2012 to 11.5 million hectares in 2020.
- Most of that reduced area is expected to be replaced with so called “feed crops” primarily feed grains, which are projected to increase 1.5 million hectares (53 percent) from 2.8 million hectares to 4.3 million hectares in 2020.
In 2014 the volume of investments in Kazakhstan’s agricultural sector exceeded 166 billion KZT, which is 17 percent more than in 2013. The aggregate profitability index of large and medium-sized companies operating in Kazakhstan’s agricultural sector stood at 17.7 percent, while this index was equal to 4.5 percent in the same period of 2013.
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