Kazakhstan • 19 August, 2020

Ministry of Agriculture on 430 million tenge for subsidizing

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At the government session chaired by the Prime Minister Askar Mamin, the Minister of Agriculture Saparkhan Omarov reported on the prospects for the development of fisheries in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

As Omarov noted, the Ministry of Agriculture, in order to support the development of aquaculture from 2018, has been implementing a budget program to subsidize feed for the cultivation of commercial fish. 

“Priority fish species are subsidized: carp, sturgeon, salmon. The program is being implemented at the expense of local budgets. This year, we have provided 430 million tenge for support. At present, about 30 fish-breeding enterprises are covered by subsidies,” the minister informed.  In addition, on the basis of proposals from businesses and NCE Atameken, on Aug. 4, 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture approved an order on amendments and additions to the rules for subsidizing investment investments. According to the additions, subsidies are provided for up to 25% of the cost of construction of closed water supply devices with a capacity of 20 tons and cage farms with a capacity of 40 tons for raising marketable fish.  In addition, within the framework of the current rules, subsidies are provided for up to 25% of the cost of equipment and machinery for lakeside farms.

In 2019, 6 farms were subsidized in the amount of 450.1 million tenge.  Kazagro provides for lending to investment projects aimed at developing commercial fish farming, including those with export potential.  Over the past 10 years, 13 fish farming projects have been financed in the amount of 13.9 billion tenge with a total production capacity of 3.26 thousand tons of fish products.  In particular, this year a project for the construction of a closed-type fish-breeding complex for raising trout with a capacity of 500 tons per year in the Akmola region was approved with the involvement of the American company AGCO Corporation. The first tranche for financing has already been allocated.  The construction of a fish farming project of LLP Murager-2 with a capacity of 1,500 tons per year in the Aktobe region is underway. Construction work is 75% complete. The project is financed within the framework of the Economy of Simple Things program. 

“We support the proposals of the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources in terms of expanding government support for aquaculture. Subsidizing measures allow the lakeside farms to come out of the shadows and really assess the production capabilities of the industry,” the minister said.  The ministry is currently considering expanding the list of subsidized fish species with the inclusion of catfish and whitefish species in the list for subsidizing feed. Omarov noted that in order to stimulate the aquaculture sector, it is necessary to provide targeted current transfers from the republican budget for subsidies, since funds are limited at the level of local budgets.  Also during the meeting, the director of Caspian Riviera LLP Raushan Khamitova made a speech. 

“We have been raising sturgeon fish for 5 years already, actively using the recirculation method (closed water supply installations), experimentally tried both flow systems and cage farms. Currently, we are planning to build a plant that will contain a full cultivation cycle from obtaining fry from caviar to obtaining caviar from fish grown from this fry, as well as a full cycle of practically waste-free food production,” Khamitova said. 

As a result, a wide range of products is planned, both in the form of semi-finished products and ready-to-eat products. All waste from processing will be used in repeated cycles for the preparation of feed.  To date, the farm has gone through almost a full cultivation cycle — from incubation of caviar to its receipt, including in vivo.  In her opinion, legislation should provide clear, transparent and concretized procedures, exclude excessive bureaucracy and delays. It is also necessary to legislatively regulate the catch of wild animals to form broodstock and reduce inbreeding. Simplify permitting and control procedures. 

She also pointed out the imperfection of the legislation that they encountered while working on the organization of cage farming in the Caspian Sea. Today, it is almost impossible to build cages both near and a few kilometers from the coast and to comply with all laws. What is needed is a single, understandable regulatory document that unites all aspects, from ecology to navigation. The same applies to special water use, that is, the use of sea water for fish farms.  At the same time, Raushan Khamitova noted that the industry is experiencing a shortage of personnel, the specialists who are trained by Kazakhstani universities are very raw and they are not enough. For the development of fish farming, qualified personnel are needed who have been trained in educational institutions with a good material, technical and scientific base, who have received not only knowledge, but also practical experience. 

“So far, such personnel have come to us only from the Astrakhan State Technical University. Of course, it is necessary to raise the domestic education system, but at this stage, cooperation with the oldest university of the former USSR will be more beneficial for us than competition. Today in Kazakhstan there is no educational institution comparable in potential to the Astrakhan University, therefore, in our opinion, it would be correct to allocate Kazakhstani grants to study at this university (it is possible to train under the Bolashak program),’’ Khamitova noted. 

According to the director of Caspian Riviera LLP, the cost of feed takes a large share in the cost of production. The price of foreign feed, which Kazakhstani fish farms have to buy, is comparable to the market value of fish (meat), which makes it unprofitable to raise fish for meat. There are several feed production facilities in Kazakhstan.  “We tried to switch to domestic feed, but the quality of these feeds is very low, the fish get sick and, in the end, expensive feed is cheaper. The state subsidizes the purchase of feed and subsidies are tied to the purchase, not the sale of products, which is very correct, because in order to obtain products, you need to feed the fish for several years. But even taking into account very good subsidies, feed is expensive and it is necessary to stimulate high-quality production of domestic feed,” said Khamitova. 

The solution to this problem, according to Khamitova, lies in the standardization of technologies and the final product, as well as in benefits and preferences for the purchase of equipment for the production of feed corresponding to the standard, for the purchase of technologies, for the attraction of foreign specialists in this area or for the attraction of foreign manufacturers to Kazakhstan. To create conditions under which it will be profitable for a foreign feed manufacturer to open production in Kazakhstan.  Summarizing the above, Khamitova noted that, first, a law is needed. Secondly, we need a sectoral development program.  “We, in turn, are ready to develop fish farming at a high pace and are ready to invest in the construction of the largest full-cycle plant worth about 20 billion tenge and provide Kazakhstan with high-quality, healthy and environmentally friendly products, including black caviar,” Khamitova said.

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