Kazakhstan: Government approves plan to increase irrigated land for agriculture

ASTANA (TCA) — At the meeting on December 25, the Kazakh Government approved the Plan for the Development of Irrigated Lands in the country until 2028. The draft Plan was presented by the First Vice Minister of Agriculture Arman Yevniev, the official website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan reported.

The main goal of the program is to provide irrigated land with water on an area of 3.5 million hectares. At present, the area of irrigated land in Kazakhstan is 1.4 million hectares. The implementation of the Plan provides for the restoration of out-of-turn but demanded irrigated lands on an area of 600 thousand hectares and the introduction of new 1.5 million hectares.

Yevniev reported that in order to develop the irrigation infrastructure further, the Ministry of Agriculture proposed to switch to a financing model with private investment in PPP schemes taking into account the world experience. According to him, this will allow improving the efficiency of land use, increasing the accumulated surface water resources, creating anchor enterprises and expanding the export of agricultural products.

The presented public-private partnership model provides for a private partner that establishes a special financial company to attract investments from international financial organizations, the Unified Accumulative Pensions Fund or second-tier banks under the guarantee of the Ministry of Finance.

The first vice minister also said that the conceptual approaches of this program were worked out with representatives of the business community. Many enterprises and final agricultural producers have expressed interest in the project.

Business representatives also attended the Government meeting.

At the meeting, Country Director of the Asian Development Bank in Kazakhstan Giovanni Capannelli said that the Bank will soon complete work on a large Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture on investing up to $2 billion in the sector for 2019-2021. The main component of this memorandum is a focus on supporting the modernization of irrigation sites.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Umirzak Shukeyev noted that this program of irrigated land development is very important for the country, because today irrigated land makes up 7% of the total cultivated area. Despite this, 40% of the gross agricultural product is produced on this irrigated land. All entrepreneurs understand the benefits of irrigated land: from year to year the number of irrigated lands increases. In 2018 alone, 65 thousand hectares were commissioned. Most of them are in the North Kazakhstan and Aktobe regions.

If within the framework of the Plan the area of irrigated land will reach 3.5 million hectares, then in the future 70% of agricultural products will be grown on these lands. The increase in the area will allow agricultural producers not to depend on weather conditions.

As a result of consideration of the issue, Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev noted that the draft Plan was agreed with all interested ministries and regions. Conceptual approaches to its implementation have received support from the private sector.

In general, the plan is designed to supply 3.5 million hectares with irrigation water, which will give 4.5-fold gross output increase and create 300 thousand jobs.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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