KAZAKHSTAN: RECORD GRAIN HARVEST
Astana, October 13: Kazakhstan has reported a record grain harvest this year. 22 million tons were collected – making 2009 the second best harvest in the last five years (in 2007, 22.3 million tons of grain were collected). This year also saw the planted area under grain crops in Kazakhstan increase to 17.2 million hectares (14.7 million hectares under wheat) - 1 million hectares more than last year.
Productivity reached 13.5 tons per hectare due to a system of State support, diversification of plant growing and application of modern technologies and new high-efficiency techniques.
Kazakhstan is the sixth largest producer and the seventh largest exporter of grain in the world. The country is especially active on the wheat market which represents approximately 90% of its annual grain crop. Kazakhstan has strong assets due to its size (five times as large as France), as well as climates that permit the growing of various quality wheat varieties.
Officials hope this year’s record harvest will help fend-off rising bread prices in the Central Asian republic (a severe drought in Kazakhstan last year led to a disappointing 17 million ton harvest, prompting government action to stem rising bread prices, which increased by approximately 12%).
Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Agriculture has set the task of bringing annual average grain production to 25 million tons within the next 4-5 years and joining the club of top five grain exporters in the world.
President Nazarbayev congratulated the farmers of the Akmola region in North-Kazakhstan, which was responsible for collecting about 16 million tons of grain. Record harvests were also yielded in Southern-Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan could help feed up to a billion people thanks to its liberalized agricultural sector. The country, however, still lacks the necessary investments in this sector which employs 80% of its workforce. Important measures were implemented to develop the one hundred collective farms in Soviet times - to the current 100,000 private farms. Today, these farms practice extensive farming on a massive scale and have been dynamic in the last decade, greatly improving crop quality and ensuring ecological practices. These results are due to the reforms initiated by President Nazarbayev who declared agriculture a national priority.
Kazakhstan now needs foreign investors to go into ‘higher-gear’: that is to say, guaranteeing the food security of one sixth of the earth’s inhabitants. This is the meaning of the declaration made by President Nazarbayev at the opening of the 17th annual sitting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in June 2007: “Kazakhstan has abundant food resources and is able to increase supplies to global markets in return for large-scale investments and best European technology. The Kazakh President is committed to global food security while repeating his appeal to the international community: help us to help you!