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Increasing yield, ensuring phytosanitary safety and training of research personnel — how agricultural science develops in Kazakhstan

Thursday, 30 July 2020, 17:15:49

National Agrarian Science and Education Center promotes the innovative development of the agro-industrial complex of Kazakhstan by increasing the practical effect of agricultural science and providing the agricultural industry with highly qualified personnel. Today, the Center is actively introducing innovative approaches to agriculture in order to increase the yield of varieties, contributes to the creation of demonstration sites for testing and introducing new technologies, conducting domestic and foreign research projects for the development of the agro-industrial complex of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and strengthening the further development of the research environment in the agricultural sector.

What are the tasks facing the Center today?

The Center proposes to develop a National Agricultural Extension System, since the villagers do not have the necessary information. They need information about technologies depending on the climatic conditions of a particular year: sowing time and harvest time, seeding depth, seed treatment, plant protection products, animal feeding rations, animal care technologies, etc.

According to Toleutay Rakhimbekov, Chair of the Board of NANOC NJSC, these Knowledge Dissemination Centers should become a link in the integration of science, education and agribusiness.

“Villagers should come here with their problems. Here scientists should receive assignments for research, and universities — requirements for personnel,” he said.

The issue of transferring some experimental stations to trust management to private business is also being discussed. Since 2002, about 30 agricultural enterprises have been transferred to private ownership, but practically not a single privatized enterprise is now engaged in science.

On the other hand, it is necessary to consider the possibility of attracting advanced private agricultural formations as experimental stations. They would participate in research, organize internships for undergraduates and doctoral students, disseminating knowledge.

In 2018, a good program for the training of scientific personnel in leading foreign scientific centers and universities was proposed — the so-called "300 Spartans" program.

In 2019, the volume of funding for agricultural science reached 17.5 billion tenge, or 0.4% of gross production. State Program of the Agro-Industrial Complex envisages increasing in 2021 to 25 billion tenge or up to 0.5%, and by 2030 to 1% of the gross output of the industry.

But there are serious disproportions in the financing of science: more than 90% of all funds are allocated for research, less than 10% for experimental work, but 0% for transfer and commercialization. In world practice, these three blocks account for approximately the same amount of funding — 30-35% each.

A high degree of wear and tear of equipment leads to excessive costs for fuel and lubricants and spare parts. As a result, Kazakhstan loses millions of tons of grain. In order to stimulate the work of scientists, the Center has begun work on the commercialization of the results of research on a royalty basis. The potential amount of royalties is about 10 billion tenge per year, of which 3 billion tenge would be paid to scientists, and 7 billion tenge — for new scientific developments. The royalty system is not only about raising the income of scientists. It also encourages them to control the quality of the seed, which will affect the quality and volume of the country's entire crop.

What mechanisms applied to the transformation of agricultural science?

The center today began the transformation of agricultural science. Among the implemented measures:

  • transition from funding research institutes to funding scientists;
  • an increase in the share of costs for experimental work up to 40%;
  • allocation of budgetary funds for the transfer and commercialization of technologies;
  • reducing the number of institutions by transferring most of them to universities;
  • increasing the number of experimental farms up to 40 by attracting the best private agricultural companies;
  • changes in the functionality of experimental farms;
  • creation of collective laboratories;
  • introduction of independent expertise in science;
  • the norm for subsidizing farmers' research costs.

This will allow attracting additional funds for science. The work in this direction will be started this year — the draft rules are being coordinated in government agencies.

In 2019, Center produced over 15 thousand tons of high-quality original and elite seeds

Over the previous three-year period of implementation of targeted program financing of science (2015-2017), 173 varieties and hybrids of agricultural crops were created.

"In 2019, according to the transfer and environmental testing, 515 samples of agricultural crops of foreign selection were studied and evaluated, 9 domestic varieties and hybrids of agricultural crops were created and submitted for state testing, more than 15 thousand tons of high-quality original and elite seeds of grain, oilseeds, forage crops were produced,’’ Rakhimbekov informed.

New varieties of these crops have been introduced on an area of ​​more than 1.1 million hectares. In total, there are about 300 developments in crop production. In animal husbandry, our scientists have about 200 developments. An electronic database has been formed, which includes almost 700 works.

It should be noted that some of the institutions are located in rural areas and for 32 villages they are city-forming. The Center has begun to develop programs for the development of these scientific settlements. They provide for overhaul of social and engineering infrastructure facilities, construction of residential buildings. For this, it is proposed to use the capabilities of all state programs (Aul - El besigі, Enbek, Nurly Zher). The first positive example was shown by the Kostanay region.

The Center notes that all the most outstanding achievements of agricultural science will not give results if Kazakhstani peasants and the industry as a whole are not ready to apply them. It is also necessary to legalize personal subsidiary plots. Farms employing about 3.5 million people and producing almost half of agricultural products.

The entire volume of taxes received from agribusiness entities is about 50 billion tenge per year. Therefore, changes in the taxation of agriculture will not affect the budget revenues.

Key changes in scientific and educational activities of research institutes and universities

Changes in the field of scientific and educational activities include the transformation of agricultural universities into research universities, an increase in the share of scientific research institutes' time for teaching to 20%, and university teachers for scientific activities up to 30%.

For reference: in the system of the agro-industrial complex there are currently 3 universities that train personnel in agricultural areas and veterinary medicine.

In three universities, 25,595 people study in all areas of training, of which 9,596 students are in agricultural and veterinary specialties.

It should be noted that the percentage of specialized specialties in agricultural universities is low. In this regard, the Center offers:

  • improvement of the legislative and regulatory framework;
  • active integration into the international economic system, bet on the "smart economy";
  • aligning curricula with international requirements;
  • creation of continuity of educational programs at different levels of education;
  • adaptation of educational programs to the labor market;
  • transition to a competency-based model of training specialists;
  • creation and transfer of knowledge of developments and technologies, formation of an interface between Kazakhstani and world science;
  • enhancing the availability and investment attractiveness of higher education;
  • providing conditions for the development of personality and everyday comfort of students;
  • creation of a specialized sectoral program for advanced training of scientific and pedagogical personnel;
  • creation of cluster structures at national universities, including both university departments and enterprises, government and non-government organizations;
  • creation of sectoral certification centers assessing the professional compliance of university graduates;
  • attraction of the business environment for the joint training of specialists for the agro-industrial complex on the basis of public-private partnership, with the provision of appropriate preferences to them;
  • improvement of the legislative framework to stimulate young specialists from the local executive bodies to increase the level of employment of graduates in their specialty in rural areas.

Program for creation of National Agricultural Extension System

The center has developed a draft Concept for the development of the National Extension Knowledge System in the field of the agro-industrial complex for 2020-2025.

“In order to ensure human capital and the introduction of technologies by agricultural producers, it is envisaged to improve the program for the dissemination of knowledge, in particular, to increase the number of centers for the dissemination of knowledge and the volume of consulting and educational services, to promote the diffusion of innovations and technologies, and to link research and educational activities with the subjects of the agro-industrial complex, as well as to involve business structures in participation,” Toleutay Rakhimbekov said.

Currently, more than 245 thousand active agricultural formations are engaged in the production of agricultural products in Kazakhstan. Most agricultural producers do not have special education, or their professional skills are concentrated only in certain highly specialized sectors of agriculture.

For a large-scale coverage of agricultural producers with the services of a knowledge dissemination system, it is envisaged to create a National Extension Knowledge Distribution System on the basis of higher educational institutions, research organizations, experimental production farms and private business.

Currently, more than 245 thousand active agricultural formations are engaged in the production of agricultural products in Kazakhstan. Most agricultural producers do not have special education, or their professional skills are concentrated only in certain highly specialized sectors of agriculture.

For a large-scale coverage of agricultural producers with the services of a knowledge dissemination system, it is envisaged to create a National Extension Knowledge Distribution System on the basis of higher educational institutions, research organizations, experimental production farms and private business.

The structure of the National Extension Knowledge System:

The single operator is the National Agrarian Science and Education Center NJSC.

Republican level — three agricultural higher educational institutions: Kazakh National Agrarian University, Kazakh Agro Technical University named after Seifullin, West Kazakhstan Agrarian Technical University named after Zhangir Khan.

Regional level — centers for the dissemination of knowledge based on research institutes, agricultural experimental stations and experimental farms.

District level — rural advisory centers based on agricultural colleges and basic farms.

Research and technological development of agro-industrial complex

As Rakhimbekov noted, the Center provides for the implementation of a new scientific and technical program "Applied Scientific Research in Breakthrough Priority Areas in the Agro-Industrial Complex for 2021-2023" through its implementation out of competitive procedures, with a projected amount of funding for 2021 — 7.7 billion tenge, 2022 — 8.3 billion tenge and 2023 — 8.9 billion tenge.

“Within the framework of this program, the direction ‘’Ensuring the breeding process and preservation of genetic resources (gene pool) of agricultural plants’’ and ‘'Preservation and improvement of genetic resources of agricultural animals based on the achievements of biotechnology and molecular genetics,” said the chair of the Board of NASEC.

Within the framework of the new scientific and technical program "Applied Scientific Research in Breakthrough Priority Areas in the Agro-Industrial Complex for 2021-2023" it is provided:

  • creation of a soil information system for agricultural lands;
  • compilation of electronic soil maps;
  • compilation of maps of agro-industrial grouping and land degradation of Pavlodar, North-Kazakhstan and Akmola regions using GIS technologies;
  • spatially referenced database of soil data on morphological and physicochemical properties.

For 2020, in accordance with the plans for the introduction of elements of precision farming, work continues. Recommendations for spring field work for 2020 were prepared and disseminated. In general, the introduction of elements of precision farming should be on an area of ​​1.075 million hectares, 610 agricultural specialists, 1,160 students were trained, and 22 farms were covered by scientific support.

In 2020, 16 subsidiaries of the Center plan to attract 50 foreign scientists, of which 2 scientists are at the discussion stage, 12 scientists are attracted free of charge, and 36 scientists will be involved in topics within the framework of the PTF under subprogram 101 “Program-targeted funding of scientific research and events budget program 267 "Increasing the availability of knowledge and research." At present, foreign specialists are involved in 11 research institutes, negotiations are being held to attract them.

Storage of agricultural products and raw materials

Within the framework of the STP Program-targeted financing "Ensuring the technological development of enterprises in the starch-treacle, fat-and-oil, feed, sugar industries of the agro-industrial complex on the basis of innovative technologies for storing and processing plant raw materials" for 2018-2020, the following projects are being implemented:

  • Study of the state of seed and soil for the technology of safe long-term storage of sugar beets. A biological product has been developed for processing sugar beet seed material to increase the storage duration of sugar beet seed material of domestic and foreign selection;
  • Biological disinfection of sugar beets during storage. A biological product has been developed against pathogens of stored beets;
  • Development of techniques and technologies for safe long-term storage of sugar beets in a controlled atmosphere. A technology for storing sugar beets has been developed, one semi-industrial sample of an ion-nitrogen zone technological line for processing and storing sugar beets has been manufactured.

Within the framework of grant funding, the project "Development of an optical-electronic separator for cleaning forage grass seeds from quarantine and hard-to-separate impurities" is being carried out, an experimental model of a color separator is being developed for cleaning forage seeds from impurities.

In addition, as part of the implementation of applied scientific research in the field of agro-industrial complex for 2015-2017 according to the budget program, conditions have been created for the development of processing production, sales of crop products ”, a prototype of a jet pneumatic separator with a closed air flow system has been developed.

In 2011, the technology for storing grain in sleeves was adapted in the conditions of Northern Kazakhstan as part of the implementation of research work to improve the technology of post-harvest processing for storing grain in polyethylene sleeves while ensuring quality and safety.

The studies were carried out in the production conditions of the economic facility of KazGer LLP in the village of Nevsky, Akmola region, where sealed polyethylene sleeves were placed. In 2010, a batch of wheat grain was formed for laying in sleeves with a moisture content of 12-14%.

Studies of the stored grain in polyethylene sleeves after 6 months have shown that the condition of the grain mass remains unchanged, therefore, the level of risk of preserving grain quality after 6 months of storage is low.

When analyzing the technology of loading grain into polyethylene sleeves by the Begger packaging machine, its advantages and disadvantages were revealed. There is an uneven packing density of the grain — the formation of a wavy surface of the sleeve. It was found that with a decrease in the braking force, airy spaces are formed, and an excessively increased degree of grain compaction leads to a rupture of the film. An application for an innovative patent of the Republic of Kazakhstan was submitted to improve the design of the device.

The study of the temperature of the grain mass under winter storage conditions showed that inside the sleeve at a depth of 20-30 cm from the surface and the temperature of the ambient air outside were practically the same. This layer is a thermal insulator due to the low thermal conductivity of the grain. The obtained correlation coefficient of 0.99 indicates a sufficient degree of adequacy of the obtained equation (conducted experiments).

Ensuring phytosanitary safety

In the field of ensuring phytosanitary safety, namely the improvement of integrated systems for the protection of fruit, vegetable, grain, forage, legumes, comprehensive recommendations have been developed on measures to combat bacterial burns of fruit crops, a technology has been developed for phytoexamination and health improvement of agricultural seeds, coniferous seedlings, turanga seedlings and poplar hybrids with protective and stimulating compounds.

This year, the State Inspection Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture will be offered a protection scheme and recommendations against fire blight and preparations for temporary registration against fire blight. Among the complex of non-chemical methods for protecting the garden, one of the most effective against the eastern and apple moth is the technology of disorienting males in industrial gardens of the Almaty region on an area of ​​more than 250 hectares.

Also, technologies have been developed for mass breeding of 12 species of entomoacariphages, including those obtained by transfer from other countries, which are successfully used against pests of greenhouses in the republic. The South American tomato moth is a serious quarantine pest of tomatoes and other nightshade crops outdoors and indoors. The pest is currently widespread in Kazakhstan. The Zhiembayev Kazakh Research Institute recommends an integrated method of protecting tomatoes against tomato moth.

An integrated system of protection of melon crops against melon flies using pheromones and plant growth stimulants has been developed. Recommendations have been developed and scientifically grounded systems for the protection of vegetable crops (cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes) have been proposed for implementation.

PCR is also used for express analyzes for the determination of pests and diseases of agricultural crops. Express diagnostics is carried out to identify pests and diseases of agricultural and forest crops using a mobile auto laboratory.

In addition, LLP Zhiembayev Kazakh Research Institute developed and introduced one domestic biological product against lepidopteran insect pests and two biological products against harmful locusts based on entomopathogenic fungi.

More than 300 aboriginal (local) strains-producers of a wide spectrum of activity are in the works for further creation of biological products against harmful organisms of agricultural crops.

Today, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) are widely used to monitor crops and plantations, digitize and process crop areas.

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