Kazakhstan's meat project stalls
Kazakhstan's cattle breeding development project aimed at bringing team export to 60 thousand tons in 2016 has stalled, Tengrinews reports referring to Ivan Sauer, Chairman of the Kazakhstan Meat Union and director of one of Kazakhstan's leading agricultural companies Rodina.
The 60 thousand ton target was set by Kazakhstan's state-run program called to enhance Kazakhstan’s meat exports potential. The Government allocated around $659 million from the National Fund for the purpose. To reach the target by 2016 Kazakhstan needs to increase the number of its livestock by importing it and then, improving its gene pool.
“Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan, the Kazakh government and the business community are trying to finger out what went wrong (with the project). We made a good start, then there was a period of euphoria, it seemed that the progress was very rapid. We imported a lot of cattle from overseas to Kazakhstan and everything seemed to be going well, but in fact, it was not enough, and now, we must admit that the program has stalled. However, it is no irretrievable. The project will be implemented eventually and we are already making the attempts to revitalise it,” Ivan Sauer said.
“The 60 thousand tons (a year) target is difficult to achieve" under the circumstances, "but we used to produce much more than 60 thousand tons of meat in the past," that is why we are targeting these amounts of meat exports to Russia now, Sauer said.
"Kazakhstan used to produce 450 thousand (tons of meat a year) while part of the Soviet Union, most of that meat went to Russia. That is why we believe that the set target is very realistic for us. We have the climate," he elaborated.
He added the problems were only temporary, because Kazakhstani meat would always be more attractive for its large northern neighbour Russia that the meat it imports from overseas.
"Russia will always need to import some meat and will prefer Kazakhstani meat, because we can offer them chilled meat, whereas the one Russia gets from overseas is frozen meat. And they are not the same kind of meat. Chilled meat is the real meat," Sauer said.
"There are a lot of different opinions about the quality of meat depending on the breed, like in case of steak meat or marbled meat. I have been in meat industry for quite a while and in my opinion there is nothing more delicious than that meat of Kazakh Whiteheaded breed. So I think that all we have to do is produce the meat and there is always a market for it in Russia,” Ivan Sauer said in response to a question about Kazakhstan's plans to supply meat to Russia in connection with the Russian sanctions.
Still, he doubted that at time point Kazakhstan could increase its meat exports to Russia to 15 thousand tons from the current 10 thousand amid the Russian sanctions imposed on Wesetrn agricultural products, raw materials and food.
According to the Statistics Agency, over the past 20 years, the number of cattle in Kazakhstan has fallen from 9.7 million to 6 million and its annual production of meat plummeted to 396,090 tonnes in 2010 from 709,600 tonnes in 1990. In contrast, meat imports grew grown from 6,000 tonnes in 1990 to almost 20,000 tonnes in 2011, Centralasiaonline reports.
Meanwhile, KazAgro, Kazakhstan's national holding called to stimulate development of the agricultural industry in Kazakhstan, is helping solve this issue by providing financial support for farmers through its Sybaga programme, which offers loans to farmers under favourable conditions, so that they can buy cattle, and helps them import high-quality breeding cattle from abroad to improve the quality of the livestock.
Reporting by Renat Tashkinbayev, writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina