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Expansion of areas, development of seed production and modernization of rangelands — how will Kazakhstan deal with drought

Thursday, 12 August 2021, 20:17:13

A briefing was held today at the Central Communications Service under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan with the participation of the Minister of Agriculture Yerbol Karashukeyev. The measures taken to procure forage and the consequences of drought in Mangystau and Kyzylorda regions were considered.

This year, a difficult situation has developed in the livestock industry in Kazakhstan due to the drought. Mangystau and Kyzylorda regions were particularly affected. The negative impact of drought is also observed in some areas in other regions that find themselves in the zone of unfavorable weather conditions.

According to Yerbol Karashukeyev, the republic produces almost 2 times less feed than the zootechnical requirement per year. Moreover, about 70% of this volume of fodder is mainly harvested in natural hayfields and on the so-called mown lands, the productivity of which depends entirely on weather conditions. This, as the acting minister said, is one of the main reasons for the low productivity of livestock.

“In our country, the share of forage crops in the crop rotation is at the level of 15%, which is 2 times lower than the indicator recommended by science. Thus, it can be stated that the basic principles of the development of animal husbandry were violated and the increase in the number of livestock was carried out without the advance strengthening of the fodder base,” he said.

Karashukeyev also expressed the opinion that one of the reasons seriously hindering the development of the program to increase the export potential of animal husbandry due to the massive import of pedigree breeding stock was precisely the failure to comply with the basic principle “if you want to successfully develop animal husbandry, make sure of the sufficiency of feed”.

Acting head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan cited the Mangystau region as an example. So, according to statistics, in Soviet times there were about 732 thousand heads of all types of livestock. For such a livestock, 3400 mine and pipe wells, 43 ponds and water pipelines with a total length of almost 260 km were built and operated. Also, under the auspices of the state, measures were taken to improve pastures and maintain their productivity. Now there are about 840 thousand head of livestock in the region, that is, its total number has increased by almost 15%. But the number of wells decreased to 2,500, although 387 wells and wells were built and restored between 2014 and 2020. In addition, practically no measures were taken to increase the productivity of pastures. That is, there is a depletion of pastures, which was aggravated under the influence of the most severe drought and, unfortunately, this is the basis for the development of animal husbandry.

Yerbol Karashukeyev noted that in order to solve the problem of the fodder base of animal husbandry, systemic measures should be taken to ensure the sustainable development of the industry, regardless of the influence of weather factors. First of all, to carry out real diversification in agriculture.

“To achieve it, it is necessary that land users strictly adhere to scientifically grounded crop rotations. Unfortunately, this is not done properly. For example, a land user in a lease agreement for a land plot undertakes to comply with crop rotation. However, due to the lack of effective control mechanisms, they, in fact, remained on paper. The existing number and limited technical equipment of the local land inspection did not allow solving the problem of control. The hope was for the widespread introduction and application of modern digital technologies, namely, space monitoring and remote sensing of the earth. However, there are a lot of problems here due to the lack of a methodology for decoding the obtained images adapted to our conditions,” he informed.

He also added that today this method can only track the progress of sowing and harvesting campaigns, control the fact of land use. However, this does not make it possible to determine the species composition of crops, therefore, it is impossible to control the observance of crop rotations. This requires applied scientific research, it must be accelerated by providing scientific organizations with appropriate funding.

The next step, according to the head of the Ministry of Agriculture, should be to expand the area of ​​irrigated land for fodder crops.

“Today we see how climate change has led to an increasing scarcity of water resources. As a result, the area of ​​irrigated land over the past 30 years has decreased by more than 2 times, from 3 million hectares to 1.5 million hectares. Under these conditions, it is more important than ever to rationally use irrigation water by switching to modern water-saving technologies, reducing the area of ​​moisture-intensive crops, and searching for new sources of water resources. This is another of the important tasks facing us,” said Karashukeyev.

Third, development of forage seed production. Currently, the country has 59 subjects of seed production for fodder crops. However, their potential for seed production is not being fully exploited. The reason is, on the one hand, in the absence of real demand, and on the other hand, in the negligent attitude of many livestock breeders, who do not see the need to invest in the creation of a fodder field, but decide the issue of fodder at the expense of natural hayfields.

It is for these reasons that last year agricultural producers purchased only a little more than 1 thousand tons of seeds of fodder crops, although according to scientific standards, about 300 thousand tons of seeds are needed to fully provide seeds for fodder production. The Ministry of Agriculture believes that the process of diversifying agriculture, observing scientifically grounded crop rotations, as well as measures for the radical and superficial improvement of pastures should create a steady demand for fodder seeds, and the current drought should once again remind livestock breeders that it is impossible without creating a forage field. properly guarantee the sustainable development of the industry.

Fourth, the productivity of the used rangelands and the expansion of their boundaries should be increased. Today they have practically forgotten what a pasture rotation is. Although such a system is one of the most important factors in the sustainable development of animal husbandry. The lack of pasture rotation has already led to the fact that at present, in various natural and climatic zones of the country, from 20% to 60% of pasture lands are degraded. By the way, the rule on observance of the rules of pasture rotation is also enshrined in the Law "On Pastures" and should be reflected in the lease agreement for the land plot. Its implementation is the direct responsibility of each land user. However, here, too, the issue rests on the control mechanism due to the lack of an appropriate methodology. And this requires the necessary applied scientific research.

According to Karashukeyev, the ministry plans to focus on the creation of cultural and arid pastures, increasing their productivity due to both radical and superficial improvement.

As for the issues of expanding the boundaries of the used pastures, the main problem here is their watering. The work carried out by the ministry in solving this problem needs not only to be revitalized, but also to be transferred to a new platform that allows it to achieve goals more efficiently and with high efficiency.

“Solving this problem will be one of our priorities in the near future. I would like to remind you that the current program provided for the construction and reconstruction of wells at the expense of farmers with subsequent subsidies for 80% of their costs, including 50% at the expense of the republican budget and 30% at the expense of local budgets,” the acting minister noted.

The situation with a shortage of rangelands around settlements for private household plots is aggravated even with their degradation. The existing mechanisms for solving this problem are either high-cost or unacceptable for rural residents due to the remoteness of the allocated land from settlements and their lack of development. And today it basically acts as a deterrent to solving the problem. One of the ways out of this situation is seen in the cooperation of private household plots. There are positive examples in the country not only in the creation of specialized structures for servicing cooperatives with the allocation of pasture land to them, but also in the cooperation of private household plots with economic entities located near settlements and having reserve areas of pasture land.

“Here it is advisable to replicate this experience with the use of measures of state support and incentives. Recently, at a meeting of the Government, the issue of replicating the positive experience of the Zhambyl region in cooperating with private household plots was considered throughout the republic. And we are planning this work from next year,’’ added Karashukeyev.

This is how the main directions of systemic measures look like, on which the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture will be focused in creating a solid forage base for animal husbandry. To give more dynamism to these processes, it is planned to develop appropriate adjustments to the existing mechanisms of state support for agriculture. Yerbol Karashukeyev expressed confidence that the above measures will lay the foundation for sustainable development of the industry, maximum minimization of the impact of weather conditions on it and non-repetition in the future of a similar situation in which certain regions of the country find themselves today.

Answering questions from journalists, acting Minister of Agriculture Yerbol Karashukeyev said that due to the current situation due to the drought, the Ministry made a decision to create funds to help regions affected by the drought. Such a measure was forced, since the department repeatedly received calls from caring citizens from all regions of the country that they wanted to help on a voluntary basis in such a difficult situation, but, having no opportunity, let's say, to help with hay or transporting feed, they offered to provide financial assistance.

Also, the deputy akims of the regions repeatedly voiced that both large and small peasant farms announced voluntary material assistance, but did not know how and where to apply and transfer funds.

“The Ministry has taken a number of measures to provide assistance to the affected regions. The money will be spent on the purchase of feed, in particular for the purchase of hay for the poor. The funds will be distributed through public commissions, with the involvement of the regional NPP Atameken, as well as the local executive body. Also, employees of the Ministry of Agriculture, subordinate organizations transferred one-day earnings to those affected by the drought,” Karashukeyev said.

It should be noted that the drought killed cattle only in the Mangystau and Kyzylorda regions. So, in the Mangystau region, as of Aug. 10, 2021, 1161 head of livestock fell due to drought, namely:

  • cattle — 49 or 0.16% of the total livestock of the region;
  • sheep — 503 or 0.11% of the total livestock in the region;
  • horses — 543 or 0.44% of the total livestock in the region;
  • camels — 66 or 0.07% of the total population of the region.

In 8 rural districts of the Aral district of the Kyzylorda region, cases of the death of farm animals were recorded due to a lack of water at watering holes and arid pastures.

According to the akimat, 553 heads died, including:

  • cattle — 176 or 0.04% of the total livestock of the region;
  • horses — 376 or 0.18% of the total livestock in the region;
  • camels — 1 or 0.001% of the total population of the region.

There are no other facts of the death of livestock from lack of fodder in the country.

In the Mangystau region: hay — 77 thousand tons, of which 30 thousand tons or 40% are harvested. In Kyzylorda region: hay — 788 thousand tons, harvested — 429 thousand tons or 54%. Harvesting of feed continues as planned.

At the same time, the Ministry of Trade and Integration, together with the Ministries of Agriculture, National Economy, Agencies for the Protection and Development of Competition and Financial Monitoring, as well as regional akimats, are working to establish a commission to investigate intermediary schemes along the entire food price chain, with a focus on wholesale markets of cities of republican and regional significance.

In order to saturate the domestic market with domestic goods and provide favorable conditions for domestic producers, work is underway to create a National Distribution System in the form of an infrastructure (NDS) — a network of wholesale distribution centers, which will create conditions for a comprehensive solution to the issues of reducing losses in the product chain, stabilizing prices, developing trade infrastructure and creating export channels.

In order to stabilize prices for socially significant food products, local executive bodies are implementing 2 mechanisms to contain prices for socially significant food products:

  • the formation of regional stabilization funds for food products;
  • provision of a soft loan to business entities with the establishment of counter-obligations for them to sell socially significant products at fixed reduced prices (“revolving scheme”).

Since the beginning of this year, 25.4 thousand tons of socially significant products were sold from the stabilization funds, and 12 thousand tons of socially significant products were purchased for the stabilization funds, including flour — 8.2 thousand tons, sugar — 2.7 thousand tons, rice — 0.4 thousand tons, sunflower oil — 0.2 thousand tons, chicken eggs — 3.6 million pieces.

As of Aug. 5, 2021, the stabilization funds store 20.1 thousand tons of socially significant food products, including flour — 12.5 thousand tons, sugar — 3.4 thousand tons, macaroni — 1.4 thousand tons, rice — 1 thousand tons, etc. Forward contracts have been concluded for the supply of about 32.5 thousand tons of socially significant food products, including for the supply of potatoes — 16.4 thousand tons, onions — 5.3 thousand tons, carrots — 5.6 thousand tons, etc.

To solve the problematic issues of the agricultural sector of the Mangystau region, a working group has been created by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. To coordinate the solution of issues of food supply and prompt response, the Republican Operational Headquarters has been created under the Ministry of Agriculture.

“During July, I have repeatedly traveled to Mangystau and Kyzylorda regions. We visited 3 districts in Mangystau region, met with local residents. In general, operational solutions have been developed to minimize the effects of drought. In the Kyzylorda region, I got acquainted with the progress in the implementation of measures to provide assistance to the population of the Aral region, as well as the situation with the procurement of fodder in the whole region,” Karashukeyev said.

When asked about the prepared fodder for the winter in the reserve of the regions, Karashukeev replied that in this direction the ministry conducts a weekly operational headquarters.

According to him, according to the data of the headquarters, as of Aug. 9, 74% have already been harvested in the republic with a plan of 23.7 million hay.

“If we consider the problem regions, then, for example, in the Kyzylorda region, with the plan of 788 thousand tons, 429 thousand tons of hay have already been harvested, which is 54%. In the Mangystau region, with the plan of 77 thousand tons, 31 thousand tons were harvested. This is 40% of the annual volume. Now they are being helped from all regions and we are providing funding from the government. Therefore, the situation is under control. The work is proceeding as planned,” Karashukeyev noted.

The main thing, according to him, is to accelerate the pace and gain the necessary volumes by the end of August, because the bulk of the resources — people and transport — will be spent on sowing grain.

When asked by a journalist about forecasts for grain harvest and export for the new marketing year, Karashukeyev replied that according to preliminary estimates of experts, the harvest will be about 20% lower.

“In a number of grain-sowing regions, the situation is difficult. Calculations are carried out jointly with experts. There will be forecast data in about a couple of weeks. For now, we assume that the figures will be lower than the level of the previous year,” said Karashukeyev.

Since Aug. 20, according to the acting minister, data will be provided to the media on a weekly basis.

Note that the export of feed for farm animals (hay, alfalfa, clover, sainfoin, fodder cabbage, lupine, vetch and others) in 2020 increased by 32.6% in kind from 1.8 thousand tons in the amount of $702.5 thousand (for 2019). At the same time, almost all exports for 2020 were carried out to China — 91% (2.2 thousand tons) and slightly to Turkey — 9% (0.2 thousand tons).

There is no export of this product from the Republic of Kazakhstan for 4 months in 2021. At the same time, the export of hay for the same period in 2020 was also insignificant to Turkey, and was absent to other countries. Exports of bran, other seedings and grinding in 2020 amounted to 243.9 thousand tons for the amount of $33.3 million, there was an insignificant growth in physical terms by only 0.2%.

For 4 months of 2021, the export of this product decreased to 53 thousand tons in comparison with the same period in 2020.

A significant share of exports in 2020 is occupied by: China — 75% (182.9 thousand tons), Uzbekistan — 24% (58.3 thousand tons), slightly Tajikistan — 0.5% (1.1 thousand tons) and Russia — 0.4% (0.9 thousand tons).

The export of plant products, waste used for animal feeding in 2020 amounted to 276.6 tons worth $ 78 thousand, the goods were exported only to Tajikistan, while in 2019 there was no export. Also, there was no export of such a product for 4 months of 2021 and for the same period of 4 months of 2020.

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