Jackals of Mamytbekov

Новость на Казах-зерно:

Recently we received a call from one of our readers in the office of “KazahZerno.kz” newspaper. He introduced – a veteran of the agricultural sector, currently retired. All his life he worked as an economist in the department of agriculture in one of the major grain-producing areas of the country. Therefore he owns statistical data and can calculate with great precision the grain harvest, given the planted areas and weather conditions – his experience allows.

So, he was just shocked from the figures annually voiced by the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan. According to him, every year is added “no less than one third of the voiced volume.

False records

– We used to have labor records, and now added, said the veteran. – Last year, they counted about12 million tons. Where from? Drought burned vast areas of grains; there simply cannot be such numbers. This year, in contrast, the weather was very moist and cold. Again, the Ministry of Agriculture predicts unrealistic figures close to 19 million tons. Where did they take them? From the sky, or what? And conscience of Mr. Mamytbekov will not waver – these data will be voiced in the government, and to the President. Also he will receive an award for his “success”. Recently Prime Minister criticized Deputy of Mamytbekov for dark matter, dissolved in the Ministry of Agriculture. But it is clear that even a rooster will not climb a chicken hen without orders of Mamytbekov. That’s who should be responsible. But, apparently, he has too high patrons if still his activity is not assessed honestly.

Intrigued by the opinion of a veteran of the agricultural sector, we decided to conduct a mini-investigation into how the Ministry of Agriculture keeps a record of grain replenishing the bins of homeland. And we found out a lot of interesting things. We called the head of one of farms, which we had visited recently, at the end of the wheat harvest in his fields. Then he voiced us average yield at 11.5 quintals per hectare. Now, he suddenly announced that the final figure – 14 q/ha. Where from?

A landowner did not want to respond a direct question for a long time, but then he decided to open all cards – on condition of anonymity. Otherwise, he is afraid of sanctions by the Regional Department of Agriculture.

– Data on productivity are collected by the regional management of agriculture, which acts on the orders of the regional department of agriculture, said the grain producer. – So, officials require that we indicated much higher yield than real. If you refuse, you receive a call from the regional department. Farmers are pressured by the promised problems with environmentalists. And this is now a powerful tool: we have such environmental regulations that even Europe does not have! For any little thing the act can be made and fined a huge sum. If a bunch of garbage will be found in your field – all is lost. One farmer was fined for 8,000,000 tenge. Now he does not know what to do – and in fact he may be left with no land. So, the majority does not argue – they write as much as they are asked. It turns out that the average yield we have is 8 – 10 quintals per hectare, and on paper – 14 – 15 quintals.

Meanwhile, officials’ appetites are growing at the end of harvest. As it turns out, regional heads compete among themselves. This is evidenced by a call sounded in our editorial from a farmer working in the area named after Magzhan Zhumabaev in the North Kazakhstan region. For obvious reasons, we cannot call his name – officials will eat him away like a pack of hungry dogs.

– I have finished harvesting, collected an average of 10 quintals per hectare, – said the farmer. – Close to the end of harvest I had visitors from the regional agriculture department, threatened and forced to specify the yield of 15 q/ha. I had nothing to do and wrote as much as they wanted. But when the cleaning was over, they came to me again and asked me to have the final figures of 18 q/ha. It is said that this is the order of Aidarbek Saparov, first deputy akim of NKR, who oversees the region’s agriculture. Like, our city akimat wants to show the yields are higher than in Kostanay region, and the task was given to “adjust” indicators at any cost. They hope for “labor” award …

Meantime all is clear: the local authorities would not behave so shamelessly, if they had not direct instructions from the top, from the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It remains only to remember with bitter the words of Asylzhan Mamytbekov, which he said, when just sat in a chair of the minister. We recall, then he promised to end with additions and only show the real picture of what is happening in the fields of the country. But, as we see, his own shirt was closer to the body, and it is still more important for career of an official to earn points rather than keeping his word.

Go without money

All these “additive” plays could be considered innocent fun of armchair “farmers”, if they do not lead to very real problems for farmers.

First, the document with the yield indicator, signed by the farmer himself, does not allow him getting insurance if the part of his crop died in reality. This case has already been: agrarian was forced before the end of harvesting to add bogus figures. Then some of the fields were killed by hail. He tried to get insurance, but the insurance company refused him. The farmer went to court, where a lawyer of the insurer arched a trump card – paper with figures signed by the farmer showing that he collected a full harvest. The court dismissed the case. That is how agrarian was left with nothing due to the fault of officials.

Новость на Казах-зерно:Another aspect of the problem has more comprehensive character. Namely – the yields directly determines the price of grain in the domestic market. We recall that the domestic demand for wheat in Kazakhstan is about 8 million tons per year. If on the paper harvest is about 19 million, it becomes clear that the country has surplus of grain. Given that the possibility of shipping grain abroad is very limited, it becomes clear that it is impossible to send the surplus for export quickly. Market responds in the only logical way – the price of grain in the domestic market falls. And peasants again have to go without money into the winter.

Minister and grain oligarchs close to his person especially year after year initiate this situation, deftly lining their points on it. Collapsing domestic market in autumn by their additions, they buy grain from farmers for a pittance. Additionally, “Food Corporation” helps them in this, which year after year is not ready to buy grain from farmers in the state reserves at more or less affordable declared price in the fall. One time “Food Corporation” does not have free storage, other time the grain of farmers does not match parameters of classiness, or it is not accepted without any reasons.

In this situation, as many farmers have to put out loans, they are forced to sell their grain to those willing to take it: the same dealers, the same large companies with free storages.

The next step – winter and spring. During this period, it “suddenly” appears that there is no grain in the country. Where did it go, it is not clear. Rather, it is clear – it was “added”. And the prices soar skyward. Remember last spring, when the grain was exported at a price of around $350 per ton. Someone in Astana earned a lot on this. And farmers who sold their crops in the fall for a pittance, often below cost, had only to weep.

– In Russia is used the mechanism of grain sales with the right to repurchase, said one of the peasants. – So now, in autumn, when the price tends to a seasonal reduce, grain producer can sell his crop to the state at a fixed price. Grain is brought to the elevator and lays there. The farmer is able to repay their loans. If in winter or in spring grain prices will rise considerably, farmer is entitled to receive back his grain at that price, which was in the fall. Plus, he pays storage services. But, any case, he has profit by selling his crop at a higher price. That is, in essence, the state support grain producers, providing them with interest-free loan on the security of grain. It is profitable for all and convenient. In addition, farmers feel that their interests are protected, and no middlemen live well at their expense. In Kazakhstan everything is vice versa – someone is watering their fields with sweat and then keep the wolf from the door, and someone skims the cream, without making any effort. One might wonder why we have not used in Kazakhstan this Russian experience. But the answer is so obvious: because in our country Mamytbekov himself and his friends grain oligarchs are most interested in the preservation of the existing system.

In the footsteps of Mowgli

Peasants see only one way out of the vicious circle – to take away from the Ministry of Agriculture the right to sum up data on yields. Now, in fact, this process is duplicated, as the balance sheets are summed up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Statistics Agency as well. But statistics is not interested in additions, that is why it introduced a civilized transparent form long ago: peasants themselves transmit data on the results of the harvesting season in electronic form. That is, there is no contact with the officials, and therefore they do not have the ability to influence them. These data can be considered objective. So why not to leave them alone and to send Mamytbekov’s tales about mythical records in the bin?

– The Ministry of Agriculture and provincial departments of agriculture have much more important tasks – said the agrarian from NKR. – We have, for example, no diesel fuel. I’m not talking about cheapened- just you cannot find it at the petrol station. We applied to management. Officials instead of helping us answer haughtily “good farmer will think about it in advance”. And why then do we need all this apparatus, if it cannot solve the problem? What is the answer? When the government needs help in a drought year, somebody comes to us and demand to deliver the grain to the Stabilization Fund below the cost. And when we need help – we hear a rejection! This year, fields are very wet, and consumption of petroleum products is two times higher than normal. In addition, we now need diesel for dryers. And how we can foresee this freak of nature?

Farmers remember that summer similar to the current by the level of humidity in Kazakhstan was about 40 years ago. Then, in order to save grain in the fields from rotting, was declared an emergency situation. Trucks from all large enterprises were sent to the villages, employees and workers from the city were sent to state farms. Everything was done to save the crop.

And what did Mamytbekov do for it this year? He organized an “additions campaign”. What time – such heroes do we have.

– A farmer in Kazakhstan now – like a Mowgli – said a landowner. – He lived in the woods and had to find a common language with the wild beasts. And we, the peasants, are living in the same way and have to find a common language with our officials. But Mowgli has managed to negotiate with the wolves, and he lived well. And we cannot agree with our Ministry of Agriculture and local authorities. This is probably because they are not wolves, but jackals, who live by the principle «And we will go to the north and wait out all there”.

Akyn Aulov

“KazakhZerno.kz” edition

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