Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture threatens the Kazakh people with hunger

In early May, it will be one year since Askar Myrzakhmetov has become the Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan. The replacement of Asylzhan Mamytbekov allowed the peasants of the country to hope for some time that now the agrarian department will turn to them. But, unfortunately, we have to state that the situation in the agro-industrial complex has only worsened. The reason is that instead of solving pressing problems, the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan started an incomprehensible revolution in the industry, declaring wheat “the enemy of the people” ….

The revolutionary bias in farming activities became evident after the presentation of the Concept of the new state program for the development of the AIC of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2017-2021. What is symbolic, this document was presented to the country on November 7, on that “red day of the calendar”.

Accident? May be. But, in any case, very eloquent, because in the very Concept (and later – in the approved program) of revolutionary enthusiasm there was even more than enough, writes the “KazakhZerno.kz” newspaper.

To the ground, and then ...

So, if we briefly formulate the essence of the program, it is aimed at the fact that Kazakhstan needs to reduce the volume of wheat production. According to the results of 2015, the department counted about 3 million tons of “extra” wheat in the country with a total harvest of 13.74 million tons. And to solve this far-fetched “problem”, it was planned to reduce the acreage under wheat from the current 12.4 million hectares to 10.1 million hectares by 2021. At the same time, it is planned to increase oilseed crops from 2 to 3 million hectares, barley – from 1.6 to 2.8 million hectares.

That is, if the former head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan Asylzhan Mamytbekov, while in office, “fed” Kazakhstan with promises to increase the country’s export potential for beef to 200 thousand tons per year, the current minister relies on the growth of vegetable oil production. Throughout the year, the agrarian department is not tired of emphasizing interest in Kazakh oil in China.

And what do we get? Meat of neighbors have already been filled up, now we will pour vegetable oil?

Very unlikely: while officials assure farmers of the profitability of producing the same flax, the peasants themselves pay attention to the fact that if the cost of this crop in the market is indeed higher, but investments in its cultivation need much more. Do not invest with all the necessary agrotechnological actions – there will be no harvest. And it is simple, there are no special equipment for sowing and harvesting of oilseeds in many farms because of the fact that the equipment today (entirely imported) jumped in price twice after the dollar, but the incomes of peasants did not grow at all, as the cost Agricultural production has practically not changed.

But even if you get the harvest, there will immediately arise a question of sales and storage. With grain everything is clear – it is in storage unpretentious. But the seeds require certain conditions, including drying immediately after harvesting. But there are not enough elevators and storage facilities that have the ability to take oilseeds.

As we see, the peasants have no reason to voluntarily give up wheat. Growing grain allows them to somehow make ends meet. Wheat provides stability to the agrarians themselves, and in general to the agar sector of Kazakhstan. But since, for some reason, the Ministry of Agriculture of the RK has already declared wheat persona non grata in the country’s fields, officials need to carry out “Napoleonic” plans. So, this season, from 2017, the area of wheat should be reduced to more than 330 thousand hectares. How to achieve this?

The Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan did very insidiously – deprived wheat producers of virtually all state support measures.

For example, from this year there will be no subsidies for wheat seeds (except for elite ones), whereas barley and oilseeds subsidize 70% of the cost of seeds of the first reproduction.

Budgetary crediting of spring field works from this year is conducted according to the principle of priority. First and foremost, cheap money is allotted for the same oilseeds, barley, oats and herbs. On wheat – on the residual principle.

In addition, such a convenient way of lending to peasants who did not have pledges was canceled, such as the forward purchase of grain by the “Prodcorporation”. So, it is very difficult for wheat producers to turn around this year.

Well, it should be noted that this season will be the first, when the peasants will work with the official abolition of the hectare subsidies for wheat. It should be recalled that last year Askar Myrzakhmetov, having taken office, promised to keep a “pogektarku” at one of the meetings with agrarians and continue discussing its necessity. But already in the autumn the peasants learned that they can not wait for money – they did not put such a line of expenditure into local budgets.

Share everything

And what will this redistribution of finances lead to “from the already rich” (according to the officials of the agrarian ministry) wheat producers in favor of “poor” oilseed and forage producers?

It will further reduce the quality of wheat.

We recall that Kazakhstan was one of the leading countries of producers of high-quality food wheat, stably entering the top 10 leading countries supplying wheat and flour to world markets. Kazakhstan wheat has always been highly valued (high protein content – over 12.5%, 13.5% and 14.5%) and raw gluten (23-30%), was also an environmentally friendly product. Each year the share of wheat of 1-3 classes in the RK was at least 70% of gross harvest.

But during the last three seasons, the once-famous quality of domestic grain has fallen dramatically. As a result of last season, most of the crop was below the third (food) class.

You can nod to the difficult weather conditions, but the fact remains: while the Ministry of Agriculture of the RK reduces the level of state support for grain growers, the limited financial resources of the peasants do not allow them to perform all the necessary agrotechnical measures that would help maintain the quality (and volume) of the crop.

Let’s return to the same seeds: because of their high cost, many peasants are sowing, in fact, grain wastes. And the state does not want to subsidize the purchase of wheat seeds of the first – the second reproduction.

Further – fertilizers. Their application in the country is 11% of the norm, according to the very same Ministry of Agriculture. Abolishing the per hectare subsidy, the agrarian ministry deprived many peasants of financial opportunities to purchase the same phosphorus fertilizers. But they could just accelerate the vegetation for 7-10 days and allow harvesting to the cold, ensuring a higher quality of the grain.

The same is true for herbicides and fungicides, whose need became apparent in the past, an unusually wet season. Diseases and weeds are hitting in quality and yield. Without money (whether loans, subsidies, or), peasants will not be able to afford chemical protection. So, the quality of wheat will continue to decline.

All to the Collective Farms

As we see, there is no logic in the war declared by the Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture.

What would be logical? On the contrary, through financing, help peasants to carry out strict implementation of agricultural technologies and return high quality of grain. It should be noted that in this case the problem of overproduction would disappear, because the grain of high characteristics on the market is in demand and it will easily find effective demand, even taking into account the transportation costs. And even more: the European market needs organic wheat, since the demand for it is now higher than the supply. Last year, according to FAO, organic wheat grew in price by 17%, and this trend will continue in the next few years.

Here it is, the logical way of development of the grain sector of Kazakhstan is state support aimed at improving the quality of wheat and transferring it to a higher, more demanded (and more expensive) class of organic products.

But what does the Ministry of Agriculture do? Continues to chop the bitches, which sits the entire agricultural sector of the country.

All with the same Bolshevik enthusiasm, the bulk of the funding is planned to be allocated to support … agricultural cooperation. This obtrusive idea of agrarian officials of all “to drive to collective farms” is no better than the desire “to divide everything.”

After all, you do not have to guess on the coffee grounds to predict the obvious – the money allocated to the agricultural cooperative will simply dissolve. Track spending will simply be impossible, given the ephemeral status of cooperatives – because they, in fact, will not have any property other than bought for state funds. And then ask for the money left in the sand will not be with anyone.

And this situation also reminds Soviet times, when everything was collective-farm – and nobody’s.

Is this really not understood in the Ministry of Agriculture? And maybe, on the contrary – they understand it well, and they specially build the work so that in case of failure of the parameters laid down in the State Program for the Development of the Agroindustrial Complex, there was no one to ask? Like, are “collective farmers” guilty?

Down with the surplus

And another threat, which is the war of the Ministry of Agriculture with wheat. It’s not a secret that the standard of living of the people of Kazakhstan after the devaluation of the tenge has fallen dramatically. While the incomes of the main part of the population remained unchanged (or fell), the prices for basic food soared twice.

Back in February this year, a group of mazhilismen drew the attention of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Bakytzhan Sagintayev to a rise in food prices. In a request to the head of the government, the deputies drew attention to the fact that according to their data, for the year the prices for the main types of goods in the 24 most significant names jumped almost two or more times.

“The largest increase in retail prices is observed in the following products – buckwheat, potatoes, sugar, eggs, salt, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes. The price of bread has risen even in the traditionally bread regions of the republic. The price for beef, horse meat, pork has already reached 1,800 – 2,000 tenge per kilogram. Growth of prices for medicines and feed base are trying to justify the traders high prices for eggs and chicken meat, “the mazhilismen said.

While officials fantasize about the “prosperous country”, where residents overeat bananas and foie gras, in fact, the only affordable product for many residents of the country is bread.

And this is for now. It is the production of grain with excess restrains the prices of flour and bakery products. If the Ministry of Agriculture manages to win in the “military” scam initiated by him, the wheat in the country will end up. And maybe even stop missing. Let’s remember the lean year 2012, when the Ministry of Agriculture arranged a natural surplus-farming, forcing the peasants, in one way or another, to take wheat to the Stabilization Funds. Kazakhstan is not insured against the recurrence of drought.

The absence of a food safety cushion in the form of “superfluous” grain (in the opinion of the Ministry of Agriculture of the RK) will lead to a jump in prices for both flour and bread. Kazakhstanis will have to remember what malnutrition is. And the backdrop of this will be the cheerful reports of agrarian officials on the successful implementation of the plans laid down in the State Program for the Development of the Agroindustrial Complex of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Akyn Aulov

“KazakhZerno.kz” newspaper

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