Kazakhstan to increase sowing areas of socially important crops – Ministry of Agriculture

The Minister of Agriculture Aidarbek Saparov reported on plans for diversification in crop production, preparation for spring field work and measures to support farmers at the Government session chaired by Prime Minister Olzhas Bektenov. 

Aidarbek Saparov noted that difficult natural and climatic conditions of 2023 have affected the financial condition of agrarians. On the instructions of the Head of State, the Government has taken all necessary measures to support farmers. The priority task for today is timely and quality implementation of spring field work. For this purpose all necessary measures are taken, the operational headquarters for coordination of spring sowing is functioning. 

According to the conducted extensive analysis in the industry, a number of systemic problems have been identified, restraining the intensive development of agro-industrial complex. One of them is weak diversification in the field of crop production. The relevant indicators have been brought to the regional akimats, which should be kept under control, the Minister emphasised.

This year the sown area of agricultural crops will be 23.8 million hectares, which is 209 thousand hectares less than in 2023. Wheat is planned to be placed on 13.3 million hectares, reducing crops by 429 thousand. At the same time, it is planned to increase the areas allocated to socially important and highly profitable crops.

"It is planned to increase sowing of oilseeds by 385 thousand hectares, which will bring the total area to 3.2 million hectares. Including the expected growth of such socially important crop as sunflower by 60 thousand hectares, bringing the area up to 1.2 million. It is also planned to increase the sowing of sugar beet by 12 thousand hectares. Accordingly, its area this year will amount to 25 thousand hectares," Saparov said.

The regions are working to create a solid fodder base. The areas allocated for these crops, this year will increase by 68 thousand hectares, bringing to 3.2 million. At the same time, taking into account the problems with irrigation water, work is being done to reduce the area of water-intensive crops. It is predicted to reduce the area of cotton by 16 thousand hectares - from 116 thousand hectares to 100 thousand hectares, rice by 6.4 thousand hectares - to 93 thousand hectares.

"In general, the planned areas of sowing cereals, vegetables and potatoes will allow to fully meet the needs of the domestic market," the minister emphasised.

Sowing works are already underway in the southern regions of the country. 33.3 thousand hectares have been sown with grain, fodder, oilseed crops and vegetables. The mass campaign will start in the second decade of May. 

Weather conditions during the period of spring field work and vegetation is no less important issue, which was also considered at the Government session. According to forecasts of RGP "Kazhydromet", moisture reserves are optimal in most parts of the country, except for the southern and eastern parts. The head of the Ministry of Agriculture noted that farmers had carried out snow retention works. However, the actual soil moisture reserves will be determined during the spring period. Therefore, it is necessary to pay special attention to the timeliness and correctness of all agro-technical measures: from the choice of seeds and sowing dates to the use of fertilisers, pre-sowing tillage, etc.

Saparov also reported on the current situation with seeds. According to operational data of regional akimats, this year's sowing campaign requires 2.4 million tonnes of seeds. As of 26 March, 97% of them have been filled. 

The local budgets of the regions provide 12.8 billion tenge to subsidise the development of seed production. The plan on the share of elite seeds of agricultural crops has been brought to the regions: this year it is 9.4 per cent. 

Within the framework of execution of the instruction of the Head of State this year it is planned to apply about 1.5 million tonnes of fertilisers or 46% of the scientific need. All necessary measures are being taken to increase the level of their application. In particular, advance subsidies are envisaged, under which Kazakhstani plants-producers will receive funds directly. The Minister stressed that this is a completely new mechanism, which will provide farmers with cheaper fertilisers in advance. Taking into account the current financial situation of agricultural producers, the issue of providing fertilisers in instalments under the guarantee of akimats is being worked out with the plants. It is expected that all these measures will contribute to the increase in the volume of fertiliser application to the soil.

"To date, 147 thousand tonnes of fertilisers have been shipped to agrarians, contracts for 173 thousand tonnes have been concluded. Active work in this direction is carried out only in North Kazakhstan and Kyzylorda regions. In this regard, regional akimats need to take control of this issue and accelerate the work to provide farmers with fertilisers. In order to preserve the harvest, it is necessary to carry out timely chemical treatment of fields. The state provides support in the form of subsidising the cost of pesticides in the amount of 50%, which will help to maintain a favourable phytosanitary situation," Saparov stressed.

At the Government session the issues of technical support of the sowing campaign were also raised. Agricultural organisations have 149 thousand tractors, about 5 thousand units of high-performance sowing complexes, 76 thousand seeders and 219 thousand tillage tools. All equipment is 85 per cent ready. It is expected that by the beginning of mass sowing works the readiness will be 100%. Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture held a meeting with manufacturers of domestic agricultural machinery, where the issues of timely delivery of spare parts and adequate pricing for them were discussed.

Formation of volumes of favourable diesel fuel for spring field work this year for the first time was carried out on the basis of electronic applications of farmers on the basis of information system "gosagro.kz". It is noted that a total of 340 thousand tonnes of diesel fuel was formed in the republic. On its basis, the Ministry of Energy approved a schedule of regions' assignment to refineries for shipment, as well as a preferential price of 250 tenge/litre. To date, 67 thousand tonnes of diesel fuel have been shipped to the regions from the refineries. It was emphasised that this work Akimats need to intensify. 

"The procedure for submitting applications and receiving preferential diesel fuel is fully digitised, but some farmers did not manage to submit applications within the specified timeframe. In this regard, akimats and farmers of certain regions raise the issue of additional opening of their reception. I ask the Ministry of Energy to support the proposals," the Minister of Agriculture said. 

It was noted that taking into account the instructions of the Head of State for the quality of spring field and harvesting works it is necessary about 1.5 trillion tenge for preferential lending. In the framework of the programme "Kendala" this year provides funding for 140 billion tenge. The forward purchase programme has also been continued: this year it will amount to 40 billion tenge. The issue of allocation of the remaining funds is being worked out from other sources of financing. In particular, 100 billion tenge will be allocated from local budgets, which will allow to attract additional soft loans in the amount of 425 billion tenge.

"The issues of the spring campaign are under special control of the Ministry. All problematic issues will be considered and resolved at meetings of the operational headquarters with the involvement of all stakeholders. The measures taken will allow to carry out the sowing campaign qualitatively and in optimal agro-technical terms," Saparov summarised his report.

The Minister of Energy Almassadam Satkaliyev reported on the ongoing work to provide farmers with cheaper diesel fuel at the Government session. 

According to the Ministry of Energy, in 2023, 402 out of 419 thousand tonnes (96%) were shipped for spring field work at a price of 222 thousand tenge/tonne including VAT. Last year 326 out of 426 thousand tonnes (76.6%) were shipped for the harvesting campaign. The price in all regions at that time was 250 tenge/litre. A total of 728 out of 845,000 tonnes (86%) were shipped in 2023. 117 thousand tonnes (14%) remained unclaimed.

Of the 728 thousand tonnes of diesel fuel in 2023, operators sold 688 thousand tonnes. At the same time, 40 thousand tonnes are now in the regional reservoirs at the operators of agricultural enterprises and can also be used for spring field work this year.

The head of the Ministry of Energy stressed that the shipment of diesel fuel is carried out strictly in accordance with the requests of operators determined by regional Akimats.

"On 22 January this year, the Ministries of Energy and Agriculture approved the schedule for the supply of 340.3 thousand tonnes of diesel fuel for spring field work in 2024 in the period from 1 February to 30 June. The price remained at the level of 2023 - 250 tenge/litre including VAT in all 20 regions, which is 45 tenge or 15% lower than retail prices of petrol stations," Satkaliyev said.

According to the Minister, the following measures have been taken to ensure transparency and control over the movement of diesel fuel: 

- separate PIN codes have been obtained for DT of ARTPs;

- diesel fuel is painted in yellow, blue and red colours;

- operators of ARTPs have created a separate virtual warehouse for diesel fuel in the IS ESF system.

It was also reported that 27,000 tonnes out of 50,100 (55%) were shipped in February-March. On March 14, the Ministry of Agriculture sent a request for additional supply of 35.8 thousand tonnes of diesel fuel for spring field work.

"Taking into account the sampling of no more than 55% and residuals from autumn field work in 2023, the Ministry of Energy together with the Ministry of Agriculture will determine the optimal schedule of shipment of diesel fuel for agricultural producers. It is carried out on a priority basis and is under constant control," the Head of the Ministry of Energy summarised.

#Agriculture #Agroindustrial complex #Fuels and lubricants #Government session

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