Kyrgyzstan reviving sugar processing industry

BISHKEK (TCA) — Launch of the Koshoi sugar processing plant in the Chui province of northern Kyrgyzstan is an important step in ensuring the country’s food security, First Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Tolkunbek Abdygulov said at the plant’s launch ceremony.

Modernizing equipment

The Koshoi plant had been standing idle since 2005. To modernize the equipment and launch the plant, the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund (RKDF) allocated a $10 million concessionary loan to the enterprise in 2016. After the reconstruction, the plant can process up to three thousand tons of sugar beets daily.

The revival of farmers’ interest in the cultivation of sugar beets inevitably poses the task of increasing the capacity of processing plants, Abdygulov said.

The experience of the past years shows that the sugar beet industry needs another large processing plant to guarantee the integrity of the production chain, ensuring a guaranteed sale of the harvest grown by farmers. The launch of the Koshoi plant helps solve this problem, he added.

With the launch of the plant, along with Kaindy-Kant sugar processing plant also located in the Chui province, the Government expects not only to completely meet the population’s needs for granulated sugar, but also export sugar to neighboring countries.

Sugar beet reception centers are working in the Chui province since the middle of September. Kaindy-kant sugar plant is operating according to schedule, and points to receive sugar beet from farmers are working in several villages and cities of the Cui province, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Increasing sowing area

In 2016, farmers sold 710.5 thousand tons of sugar beet harvested on 12 thousand hectares. In 2017, the sowing area was increased by four thousand hectares, and the beet harvest is expected at 850-900 thousand tons, the Agriculture Ministry said. Due to the growth of sugar beet acreage, it is necessary to increase the processing capacity of sugar processing plants.

Last year, the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund allocated a $10 million loan to restore the Koshoi sugar plant and $5.5 million for Kaindy-kant. To optimize the work of reception points, new modern folding machines were bought for acceptance of heavy vehicles as well as electronic truck scales installed.

In September 2017, the RKDF allocated $1.5 million more to the Kaindy-kant plant to purchase the diffusion equipment that would increase productivity from 3,000 tons to 3,500 tons of sugar per day.

More than 3,500 farms are currently supplying raw products to the modernized plants.

The implementation of these projects will reduce the import of sugar into Kyrgyzstan and in the long term it will lead to an increase in the country’s GDP by 1%. The number of people employed in the processing and growing of sugar beet will increase by 35 thousand.

Restoring sugar cultivation

In the Soviet times, Kyrgyzstan produced more than 200 thousand tons of sugar, meeting domestic needs and exporting the product. Five sugar processing plants were built including Kant, Kara-Balta, Tokmok, Novo-Troitsk, Belovodsk, and Kaindy plants, which processed about ten thousand tons of beets per day. The country exported up to 70 thousand tons of high quality sugar a year.

Over 25 years of independence, not a single sugar processing plant has been built. Moreover, the old ones stood idle due to lack of raw materials and out of order equipment. Kyrgyzstan currently produces about 50% of its sugar need and the rest is imported from neighboring countries.

According to experts, sugar beet is the most profitable among the technical crops in the country. Its cultivation requires proper care and costs, but it brings good profits. Solving the current problems will attract farmers to growing sugar beets.

Beet growers hope that the long tradition of sugar cultivation will be restored and Kyrgyzstan will be able to become the main producer of sugar in Central Asia as before.

Kyrgyzstan’s joining the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015 created favorable conditions for the domestic sugar industry. The market has become protected because raw sugar imported from non-EEU member states will be considered as sugar of third countries, and will be charged with a 30% duty. The sugar produced from local raw materials is more competitive.