Officials forgot about the agricultural sector at the time of the crisis

The readiness of the authorities of Kazakhstan to the spread of coronavirus was on the appallingly low level. We see a series of senseless convulsive movements, meaningless, and only escalate the panic, which is detrimental to the business, writes “KazakhZerno.kz“.

Only now the country began to think about the import of the rapid tests.

In the end, it is still unclear what number of people quarantined, has a virus, and who is not.

By the way, about the quarantine — if our doctors were able to quickly test citizens with suspected infection, none of the quarantine wouldn’t be necessary. There is no virus released. Is — conduct supportive therapy. But as a result of the uncertainty out, and one to round up a bunch of all “suspicious” and keep them close, forcing to breathe the same air. And in fact, healthy condemned to infection in the case that there will be at least one carrier.

But since the medical topic is not our profile, we will focus on another topic.  Namely, on how the coronavirus will affect the country’s economy, and not each of us individually.  If a person with good immunity is ill and can recover, then the economy of Kazakhstan, already poor in health, is in mortal danger.

 And the farmers here are in the most vulnerable position.  The agricultural sector of Kazakhstan has been accumulating problems year after year.  And against the background of coronavirus, they painfully remind themselves of how chronic diseases remind a person of his problems.

 The main problem is import dependence.  The current crisis came at a time when farmers need to stock up on supplies, spare parts, seeds, herbicides, fertilizers and many other things that are necessary for successful sowing.  For most of these positions, Kazakhstan is dependent on imports.  Against the backdrop of a rapid decline in the national currency, the cost of preparing for the strada at once increased by 20-25%.

What is the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan and in general the government and the National Bank?  Never mind.  No one announced any emergency measures to support farmers.  Out of habit, the authorities save what is personally closer to them – oil companies (under the pretext that they are filling the budget!).  The depreciation of the tenge is a curtsy in favor of the oil industry, while farmers are directly affected.  But if in the previous crisis years this could have “rolled”, then the current crisis is special – it is exacerbated by the closure of borders.  And if the global quarantine drags on, each country will have to rely on itself only.  Including, to ensure food security.

 In Kazakhstan, this is already so bad – for six socially significant food products, the dependence on imports is at the level of 40%.  In fact, everything is fine with only grain and potatoes.  And now, the current suffering, in the event of failure, jeopardizes these positions.

 On March 17, the Prime Minister’s website disseminated information on preparations for spring fieldwork.  And what do you think, the head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan there reported on the introduction of some extraordinary support measures?  No matter how!  All the same numbers that were announced earlier were voiced, long before the crisis – lending to VPR will amount to 70 billion tenge, preferential diesel fuel will be provided at 177 tenge per liter in the amount of 387 thousand tons.

But excuse me, firstly, yesterday’s 70 billion – this is about 55 billion today.  Why is this amount not increased ?!

 Secondly, why didn’t anyone think about giving this money to the peasants altogether in the form of an interest-free loan?  After all, agrarians now find themselves between a rock and a hard place when their expenses jumped, and they cannot increase their income.  Why does the government not support those who will have to save us from hunger if the crisis drags on?

 Thirdly, the price of “preferential” diesel fuel is surprising.  The price of oil collapsed two and a half times – and the price of diesel fuel did not drop a penny.  Why?  How long will comprador officials protect the interests of commodity traders, ignoring the needs of those plowing in Kazakhstan’s native land ?!

 By the way, in other countries they demonstrate examples of how to support business.  USA, UK, EU – all announced the allocation of multi-billion dollar amounts to finance production in times of crisis.  In fact, in Kazakhstan the only real production is agribusiness.  But the whole power vertical has forgotten about him – from the president to the minister.

Yes, once again, as during the drought of last year, we saw the toothlessness of the position of Minister Saparkhan Omarov.  Instead of fighting for the interests of the industry, in order to demand preferential terms for lending, prolonging loans and writing off debts, he fulfills his role as an extras, letting everything go by itself.  Perhaps they remain.  Maybe they’ll remove it.  Perhaps there will be no hunger.

 But is that the way the food security officer for 18 million people should act?

 What should we expect in the end?  Farmers will save on everything they can.  Herbicides, fertilizers, high-quality seeds, fungicides – all this will not be affordable for most peasants.  As a result, you will not have to rely on a high yield, even in favorable conditions.  There will be moisture in the summer – fungal diseases will spread and gobble up half of the unprotected fields.  There will be no rain – deprived of fertilizing fields will drive even worse than in 2019. And again we will be left with a minimum harvest.

 Following this, mill complexes and flour export will begin to fall down the chain.  People will lose their jobs and increase social tension and pressure on an already meager budget (which is bursting at the seams due to low oil prices).

 Will officials save the industry?  Personally, I have doubts.  Rather, they will prefer to take advantage of the situation and take away land and equipment from those who cannot repay loans.  And what about state aid?  Its officials are likely to give to the “rescue” of pocket banks than to support the agricultural sector.

Akyn Aulov

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