Prospects of innovative development of agriculture

Dec 25. Kazpravda

By Asylzhan Mamytbekov, Minister of Agriculture

Prospects of innovative development of agricultureThe new stage in development of Kazakhstan’s agro-industrial complex requires solution of strategic objectives in the industry.

First, the population of the republic must be provided in the required volume with available high-quality food. Second, implementing a huge export potential, the agricultural producers will manufacture products which are competitive and in demand in the world market. And these goals should be achieved in parallel. To do this, the agriculture must become profitable, and therefore attractive for investments and doing business.

In turn, the profitability and competitiveness of the agricultural business in the modern world are determined by the level of applied technologies. It is known that the leading countries- manufacturers and exporters of agricultural products are at the same time technological leaders in the respective fields of agricultural science.

As known the methodologies used in agricultural research are not inferior in manufacturability to other traditional knowledge-intensive industries. At the same time it has its own specifics. If, for example, in engineering, medicine, chemistry and other fields we can overcome the technological gap at the account of transfer of foreign technologies, in agriculture such opportunities are limited. The specific of the branch is that many factors strongly influence the results: climate, soil parameters, quality of water, traditional pests and diseases. That’s why every country has its own national agricultural research system.

The agricultural science in Kazakhstan is historically one of the most important areas of science. Over many years a network of industrial research and developments was formed and experimental organizations – created in the republic. There are three agricultural universities now – in Astana, Almaty and Uralsk. Their infrastructure in recent years was significantly modified. We also established own schools, which are recognized abroad and accumulated for years a store of knowledge about the conditions of agriculture in all agro-climatic zones of Kazakhstan.

The domestic agricultural science focuses on creating high-yielding varieties and improving the gene pool of animals as well as on the introduction of scientific developments in production, mainly moisture saving technologies. The state in priority order supports activities aimed at improving the genetic potential of plants and animals. For example it subsidizes up to 40% of elite seeds and breeding of animals. Thanks to that the crop area under the seeds and cultures of domestic selection for the last 10 years increased by 2.6 times and their share in the total crop areas is 42%, or 6.8 million hectares.

Every year the crop area with the application of moisture saving technologies in Kazakhstan increases and this year it has reached 12 million hectares. This direction in crop production is one of the main trends in such countries as the U.S., Brazil, Australia, Argentina and Canada. In its base, along with the rejection from the use of plowing the soil, are put the technological methods aimed at combating degradation of soil structure, the loss of productivity, loss of moisture and falling the yields.

According to experts of the International Center for Improvement of Maize and Wheat (ICIMW), this year Kazakhstan is 9th in the world in the size of crop area with the use of zero technology and second in the world after China in the application of moisture saving technologies. According to the same estimations, the wheat yield’s increase from moisture saving technologies in Kazakhstan in the current year amounted to 720 thousand tons, or about $ 220 million. This growth fully covers the state’s cost for funding of the system of agricultural research for 10 years.

Currently, Kazakhstan has created favorable conditions for the modernization of agricultural production: agricultural producers are sold leasing scheme, they are provided with benefits and incentives to attract investments and technologies in agriculture. Another promising direction in the development of agriculture is widespread introduction of innovations in the agricultural sector through the creation of centers for dissemination of knowledge related to the research institutes, universities, experimental farms and agricultural producers.

In recent years, the issues of industrial-innovative development are attached absolute priority in the economic policy of Kazakhstan. New laws on science, on the state support of industrial and innovations were adopted. To compete in the global market and to provide ourselves with own food we need to create an effective system of research, similar to the United States, France, Australia, Canada. It’s not for nothing speaking on November 11, 2011 at the Congress of agricultural workers, the Head of State Nursultan Nazarbayev pointed out the crucial importance of this component and instructed to develop a program of reforming the national agricultural science.

We intend to complete reforms initiated in 2007 with the creation in the Ministry of Agriculture of the company “KazAgroInnovation.” Today the JSC “KazAgroInnovation” is actually the operator of the sectoral innovation system, which unites 23 research organizations, 14 experimental farms and six supporting organizations that provides functioning of a classical chain: “generation of knowledge – testing and adaptation of knowledge – knowledge dissemination and – application of knowledge “.

At that the JSC “KazAgroInnovation” is empowered with the functions similar to such world-renowned organizations as the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA (ARS USDA), the National Institute for Agricultural Research in France (INRA), National Corporation for Agricultural Research in Brazil (EMBRAPA), National Institute of agricultural technology in Argentina (INTA), and others.

In the future we plan to reconstruct the process of setting goals and the formation of research programs and finally transfer to the practice of forming an integrated scientific and technological programs using the mechanisms of program financing and to continue to develop the tools of research, to introduce findings into practice, taking into account the changing regulatory base and experience gained over the last five years.

No less important is the interaction with the subjects of business sector. For this purpose we will actively attract agricultural producers to implement the innovation policies in agriculture at all stages. Domestic business today is ready to participate in this process and that is very important.

One of the main directions in reforming the agricultural science is the modernization of infrastructure. The situation with its upgrading is still a major limiting factor for the development of agricultural research. Thus today, the share of laboratory equipment, which is older than 20 years in the JSC “KazAgroInnovation, is about 50%, while in other countries there is the practice to update the basis equipment each 3-5 years.

More than 70% of the buildings and facilities are exploited without major repairs over 30 years, and 50% of agricultural machinery used for maintenance of field experiments badly need replacement. It is extremely difficult to manufacture competitive and innovative products at such poor level of scientific infrastructure.

In addressing this problem the basic approach will be the functional modernization of research organizations of the JSC “KazAgroInnovation” depending on their specialization and actual potential. The main research centers of advanced research methods to generate new knowledge will be created on the President’s instruction: scientific and educational centers in the villages Scientific of the Akmola region and Almalybak in the Almaty oblast. The role of the regional research organizations, the main task of which is to test the best domestic and foreign developments in a particular region, to adapt them and to continue to distribute the best performance among agricultural producers, will be also enhanced.

In the result reforming the domestic agricultural science will help to build a competitive and efficient system of agricultural research on the model of the most developed countries.

In 2013 we intend to complete all preparations and from 2014 a new model of domestic agricultural research system will be launched.

Thereby our agrarian science will become a real factor of production and an engine of innovation development of agribusiness, which will ensure the achievement of objectives set by the head of state.