Kazakhstan's wheat, beef and dairy sectors: An assessment of their development constraints and recent policy responses
[Die Erzeugung von Weizen, Rindfleisch und Milchprodukten in Kasachstan: Entwicklungshemmnisse und Agrarpolitische Förderung]
Kazakhstan is now widely regarded as a key player on world agricultural markets, with considerable export potential in the wheat, beef and dairy sectors. Based on unique farm-level data covering all production systems currently relevant, we offer new insights into the constraints that hamper further economic growth and provide an assessment of the government´s agricultural development strategy. A frequently mentioned bottleneck is agriculture´s lacking access to finance. But most farm managers in the farm survey doubt that agricultural investments deliver a sufficiently reliable return required for credit funding and thus do not take loans. Despite the vast land resources, a lack of land supply is now the most cited constraint to farm expansion in the highly regulated land market of the northern grain region. Another set of constraints in wheat production is related to the market power of elevators, the vagaries of trading over long distances in an underdeveloped rail and seaport infrastructure, and the intervention activities of state agencies. In the cattle sector, there are significant problems in year-round fodder supply. The value chains for beef and dairy are bifurcated into an import-dependent chain for industrially processed products serving urban consumers, and a local chain of raw products serving rural consumers and urban bazaars. Recent modernisation strategies of the government tend to focus on the provision of subsidised capital, while they underestimate the knowledge and incentive problems inherent to a state-guided management of sector development. The government should rather focus on providing impartial, reliable and high-quality public services to the sector, making sure that the weakest links in food chain development are identified and private entrepreneurs are provided with the necessary incentives to strengthen them. Our evidence suggests that a bundle of measures improving the local institutional environment of agriculture is more important than massive state funding of certain production lines.
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