Pauline Gavrilov animatrice du collectif d'Index Orion est arrivée deuxième au concours organisé par l'Union des journalistes Kazakhs avec sa publication initialement publiée dans le Huffington Post "L'agriculture, une chance pour le Kazakhstan".
Ci-dessous le texte dans sa version anglaise telle que soumise lors de la compétition:
Agriculture, a chance for Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan, an emerging country of Central Asia, can pride itself on a high growth rate (6% in 2013). This growth is mainly generated by the Caspian Sea oil-bearing fields of Tengiz and Kashagan, metallurgical resources (manganese, iron and tungsten) and mineral resources (potassium, coal and especially uranium). In 2013, the World Bank reports that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Kazakhstan was worth 224.4 billion US dollars (43rd in the world). GDP per capita was 13172 USD. Services account for 55.8% of the GDP, industry 39.5% and agriculture 4.7%. Reconsidering the development model demands economic diversification, in order to avoid the pitfall of the Venezuelan’s situation. The development of agriculture will play a key part in going beyond the status of an emerging country, and in achieving President’s Nursultan Nazarbayev 2050 strategy’s objective: to be in the top 30 most developed countries.
An emerging power located at geostrategic crossroads
Kazakhstan’s current identity results from the Soviet nationalities’ policy carried out during the 70 years of Soviet Union’s membership, the most important identity markers being population’s settlement (1920) and Russian as an official language (together with Kazakh). Russian is the common language versus the vernacular languages spoken by the various ethnic groups. The process of nation building which started with the independence (as described by Shirin Akiner in her book, The Formation of Kazakh Identity: From Tribe to Nation-State, Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1995) aims at creating a Nation-State in the middle of the steppes’ world.
The steppes’ nomadic horse riders are still imposing their clannish social structure in today’s Kazakhstan. Sunni Islam is called upon in the building of the current identity, even if the Shaman disputes it with the Imam. The presidential regime is often described as authoritative by observers. However, in 2010, Kazakhstan took the Presidency of the Organization for the security and the co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
Since Kazakhstan’s independence, the intense development of the energy sector relegated the agriculture’s share in the GDP from 34% in 1990 to 5% in 2013. However, the agricultural sector is the 1st sector in terms of employment, 26% of the workforce. Increasing productivity and competitiveness, is therefore critical. The challenge now is how to make Kazakhstan evolve from a survival farming to a profitable and sustainable agriculture respecting the environment. The environmental standards (ISO 14000) and quality standard (ISO 9000) will be used as the appropriate framework to avoid the destruction of natural resources. Foreign investors are expected to bring innovation through generic key technologies. Foreign direct Investments totalled 14,022 million USD in 2012, compared to 0 in 1991.
In 2000, Kazakhstan was the first ex-Soviet republic to clear entirely its debt to the International monetary Fund (IMF) seven years before expiry. In 2013, the national debt accounted for only 13.5% of the GDP. The strong economic dependence on fossil fuels is however carrying the famous Venezuelan syndrome. The maintenance of the production by OPEC, the drop of the oil price, the recession of the fossil fuel industry and the growth of agriculture should encourage the development of renewable energies (RE).
The agriculture of Kazakhstan is characteristic of post-communist agriculture managed quasi exclusively by State Agencies. It is composed of small, even very small holdings relying on extensive breeding contrasting with large, or very large farms inherited from the kolkhozes (especially in the North of the country). The absence of mid-size structures is detrimental to productivity.
A fertile compost for inclusive growth
Oil revenue will not be able to generate economic growth forever. On the other hand, a competitive agriculture can be a stable contributor. However qualified labour is currently insufficient, although the index human development is 0.754. Extensive training and innovation programs will have to be implemented. The introduction of key generic technologies will have to be generalized, taking into consideration that Kazakhstan suffers from a severe lack of water in order to develop its agricultural production. The issue with irrigation of the ground, a problem mostly identified in the famous campaign of the “virgin lands” is still relevant. Erosion related to the wind is uncontrolled.
The development of agriculture will give better access to those who are currently excluded from banking services and particularly to women, so that they can fully play their role as economic actors.
The Customs union created between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan further opens markets to the Kazakh agricultural. In the North of the country, Siberia and more largely Russia are accessible markets for Kazakh wheat and cattle. The local market also has the potential to be developed. The crisis in Ukraine will also open new outlets for the Kazakh agricultural sector.
The Ukrainian conflict and uncertainty on the new gas pipeline, South Stream, connecting the gas fields of Tengiz to Europe via the Black Sea and Bulgaria, bypassing Ukraine is likely design a new map of the gas and oil supplies to the European Union and France. Kazakhstan a major step on the "silk route” has a strong card to play. Kazakhstan definitely needs to play its card in order to keep and help the world’s geopolitical balance.