COVID-19 has serious consequences for Kazakhstan's food security - FAO

Business Materials 11 October 2021 17:59 (UTC +04:00)
COVID-19 has serious consequences for Kazakhstan's food security - FAO

BAKU, Azerbaijan, October 11

By Nargiz Sadikhova - Trend:

As in many countries around the world, the negative impact of COVID-19 has serious consequences for Kazakhstan's food security, the FAO told Trend.

The FAO noted that rising food prices are obstructing access to food, as socially significant food items rose 9.6 percent in 2020. Eight out of 19 socially significant food products went up to 30 percent: sugar imported mainly from Russia went up by 33.6 percent and buckwheat went up by 34.6 percent, respectively, some export-oriented goods - sunflower oil - went up in price by 53.8 percent, potatoes - by 46.1.

Also in Kazakhstan, the poverty rate was 4.5 percent and increased compared to 2020. So, in the first quarter of 2021, 10 percent of the wealthiest population spent 71,050 tenge ($167) on food products on average per capita per month, which is 4.6 times higher than the costs of such goods for 10 percent of the poorest population.

“In spite of difficulties, the Government of Kazakhstan is systematically working to ensure food security. Food security is one of the priorities in the economic policy of Kazakhstan. To achieve it, a program for the development of the agro-industrial complex is being implemented, which will end in 2021. It will be replaced by a similar five-year national project,” the FAO noted.

Despite the conditions of the pandemic, there is a positive trend in the agricultural sector, the FAO added.

“Food security in the country is ensured by the constant development of companies working in agriculture and agricultural processing. The state plays a significant role in supporting the sector’s enterprises. For example, within the framework of the State Program for the Development of the Agro-Industrial Complex for 2017-2021 alone, it is planned to allocate about 2.77 trillion tenge ($6.5 billion) from the republican and local budgets. At the same time, the largest creditor of the industry is the national holding KazAgro, whose subsidiaries - the Agrarian Credit Corporation, the Fund for Financial Support of Agriculture and Kazagrofinance - financially support the agricultural industry,” the FAO added.

However, the FAO said, there are still many unresolved problems.

“Food security of Kazakhstan has existing weaknesses. If deficiencies such as oceans, rivers and lakes cannot be addressed, and access to water is difficult for Kazakhstan, then issues such as political commitment to food security and access, changes in average food costs are solvable and these positions need to be strengthened,” the FAO said.

The indicators of agricultural research and development, agricultural infrastructure in Kazakhstan is at an average level.

“However, these important positions require special attention from public policy, since the level of their development directly determines the food security of the country. The level of labor productivity in the agricultural sector remains at a low level compared to other sectors of the economy. The main reasons for such a low indicator can be attributed to the issues of insufficient technical equipment, implementation, transfer of effective agricultural technologies and their availability for small and medium-sized farms,” the FAO added.