Union of Farmers of Kazakhstan against lease of farmland by foreigners

ASTANA (TCA) — The Union of Farmers of Kazakhstan has spoken against leasing of Kazakh agricultural land by foreigners because it doubts the transparency of such procedure, Novosti-Kazakhstan news agency reported.   

“Under conditions of widespread corruption of Kazakhstani officials (the executive branch of power), with the weakness of maslikhats and the Parliament (the representative branch of power), and the currently underdeveloped institute of self-government, to give officials complete control over the issue of farmland lease by foreigners would mean a crime against our people and the future of our nation,” the Union of Farmers said in a statement.  

The Union believes that foreigners and companies with foreign participation “should not be allowed to lease agricultural land”. “The only exception should be for foreign investors building processing facilities in Kazakhstan; here we talk about land for placing concrete enterprises, not for growing agricultural crops,” the statement said.     

“Many experts still believe that from the economic point of view, land lease by foreigners and private ownership of land is profitable and correct. …Only civil, public control is able to make this procedure, and lease agreements, transparent and safe for our country, our people, and the future. Today we have no such control,” the Union of Farmers concludes.  

Thousands protested across Kazakhstan in April and May against the government’s plans to privatize agricultural land.

As a result, the Kazakh government set up the commission to review the land-reform plans, and invited some opposition figures to join it, after opposition activists called for rallies to be held across the country to protest proposed changes to the Land Code that would allow farmland to be sold and would allow foreign investors to lease land for agricultural use for up to 25 years.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev on May 5 ordered to postpone the implementation of the controversial legislation until 2017.

Sergey Kwan