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Food Aid for 1.5 Million People in Tajikistan

To help families in Tajikistan, increasingly in need of food supplies, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated $7 million to the United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) The funding will help meet both the needs of vulnerable sectors of the population and strengthen the local government's capacity to combat the effects of persistent price increases. In Tajikistan, the UNWFP currently guarantees access to good nutrition for over 120,000 people in 24,000 households. According to the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO)/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), it was estimated that 1.56 million of the country's citizens people went hungry in 2023. Since then, circumstances have changed for the better. Acute food insecurity amongst the population fell to 16 percent from 20 percent. Nevertheless, WFP monitors continue to keep a watchful eye on household food security and market conditions, and are ready, if needed, to raise additional funds to feed families.

Kyrgyzstan Becomes an Industrial Producer of Black Caviar

Until recently Kyrgyzstan has not produced or exported black caviar -- but by the end of 2024 the republic will have made several tons of it. Today Kyrgyzstan is breeding different species of sturgeon fish, which produce black caviar. Female fish purchased 4-5 years ago have now reached sexual maturity, and can produce a high volume of black caviar. Fish farm owners believe it is much cheaper to produce caviar in Kyrgyzstan than in Kazakhstan or Russia because of the better climatic conditions. "Sturgeon [reach maturity] in 4-5 years in our country, while in Russia it takes 8-10 years," the Kyrgyz fisheries association commented. One of Kyrgyzstan's fish companies said that as of a week ago, the country was not on the world's black caviar production lists. But today they are already harvesting caviar using the so-called 'lifetime method'. That means the caviar is simply squeezed out of a live fish. Therefore, from one fish it's possible to harvest caviar several times over the fish's lifetime. According to the producers, such caviar is usually larger in size and discernible by taste. "At the moment we are not talking about dozens, but hundreds of kilograms of caviar. By the end of 2024, tons of products will be produced, which will soon be available for sale on the shelves of domestic stores. At the moment, work is underway to produce cans and stickers," said Kyrgyz meat company ichthyologist Alexander Dytynyak. Meanwhile, black caviar exports from Kyrgyzstan to Russia have already begun. According to Russian Customs Service data, black caviar from Kyrgyzstan was not supplied to the Russian market at all until 2022, when 1.7 tons of it were sent. Experts from the food oversight agency Rosselkhoznadzor suspect that the caviar supplied to Russia is not actually produced in Kyrgyzstan, but is re-exported from Europe. To verify these speculations, the Russian inspection body inspected Kyrgyz fish farms last year. However, not all enterprises agreed to let Russian specialists in. "The refusal to participate in the inspection confirms the validity of Rosselkhoznadzor's claims and the possibility of supplying products from third countries under the guise of Kyrgyz products," the Russian agency reported. Last year, representatives of the European Union (EU) also noted the growth of caviar exports from Europe to Kyrgyzstan. According to them, after the introduction of economic sanctions against Russia, exports of the delicacy from Europe to Kyrgyzstan increased many times over.

The Cost of Bread and Flour in Turkmenistan is Steeply Rising

According to local media, bread and flour are becoming much more expensive in Turkmenistan’s state stores. The price of a kilogram of flour is being quoted at 3.5 manat ($1 at the state rate or $0.18 at the black market rate), instead of the one manat ($0.30 at the state rate or $0.05 at the black market rate) previously. Similarly, the cost of a loaf of bread has increased to 2.5 manats ($0.72 or $0.13) from one manat ($0.3 or $0.05). The food ration limit has stayed the same despite the price increases: one person can still only purchase three loaves of bread and five kilograms of flour. In Turkmenistan, state and private stores have entirely different prices. Private stores offer everything, but many families often cannot afford the goods. Although the prices in state stores are significantly lower, scarcity is a common issue, and there's a rationing quota that caps the quantity of goods sold to each individual. Additionally, lines frequently form in state stores because of the influx of customers looking to purchase bread at reduced prices. This occasionally leads to sad consequences; according to Turkmenistan’s domestic mass media, a woman was killed in a fight in the Tashkhovuz region last summer while purchasing subsidized flour. People in Turkmenistan prefer to purchase flour imported from Kazakhstan over local flour found in state stores, in part due to the country's growing demand for flour and bakery products, according to a report by Tukrman News. For instance, people in the Maryam region claim that Kazakh flour costs just slightly more and is of higher quality. A 50-kilogram bag of local flour costs at least 180 manat ($51.50), while the price of Kazakh flour is 200 manat ($60.10). However, according to some shoppers, Turkmen flour smells bad and looks gray in color. It is not available in infinite quantities: there is still a five-kilogram per person ration quota in place. According to people cited by Turkmen news, in addition to the price of bread and flour, prices for fertilizers, irrigation water and leases for the use of state equipment have increased several times. Unfortunately, farmers who rent land from the government aren't receiving any additional income from the increase in retail purchase prices.

Italian Agricultural Holding Enters Kazakhstan Market

The Italian holding Bonifiche Ferraresi, which produces and markets agricultural products, has signed a memorandum of cooperation with Kazakhstan’s Agrofirm TNK. This was the result of negotiations between the Kazakh minister for agriculture, Aidarbek Saparov, and the management of Bonifiche Ferraresi in Rome last week, the Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture reported. Agrofirm TNK produces agricultural products on 400,000 hectares of land in the Akmola region, northern Kazakhstan. At the first stage of their partnership, the Italian and Kazakh companies intend to exchange experience regarding technology, seeds, and employee training. At the next stage they plan to develop processing, including pasta production. Forty enterprises currently produce pasta in Kazakhstan, the largest of which use durum wheat flour as a raw material, which has a high content of protein and iron. Traditional Italian pasta is made from this type of flour. “Kazakhstan has every opportunity to increase pasta production and exports, since it has its own raw material base. In 2022, Kazakhstan produced 15.6 million tons of soft wheat and 833 thousand tons of durum wheat, of which about 400,000 tons were exported to Italy, which is enough to increase the volume of pasta production, including in order to expand exports,” Mr Saparov said during the negotiations. The minister also told the Italian partners about the favorable investment climate in Kazakhstan, pointing out that investors can directly enter into an investment agreement with the Kazakh government to implement large investment projects, and receive certain benefits and preferences.

FAO, SCO strengthen partnership on food security, sustainable development

TASHKENT (TCA) — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on November 2 agreed to boost joint efforts aimed at providing food security and sustainable development for present and future generations, in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, FAO reported on its website. Continue reading

EBRD supports expansion of Kazakhstan food producer

NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is supporting the expansion of RG Brands, a Kazakhstan-based manufacturer of food and beverages, with an investment that will result in environmental benefits for the country, offer inclusion opportunities for young people and promote international standards in the food processing sector, the Bank said on July 15. Continue reading

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