Tag Archives: agriculture

World Bank approves $239m funds to build improved water system

MARCH 13 (The Bulletin) — The World Bank approved a $239m credit line to Uzbekistan to help build improved water services. The World Bank country manager in Uzbekistan, Hideki Mori, said that 500,000 people will have improved water supplies in Uzbekistan after this project is completed. The project is focused on the remote Uzbek region of Karakalpakstan and around the town of Samarkand.


— This story was first published in issue 440 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

US’ Tyson Fresh Meats to build beef processing plant in Kazakhstan

ALMATY/DEC. 10 2019 (The Bulletin) –Tyson Fresh Meats, a subsidy of the US food giant Tyson Foods, signed a deal with the Kazakh government and the privately-owned Kazakh industrial conglomerate Kusto to build a production facility in the north of the country.

Neither side released financial information on the deal but media reported that the plant should be able to process up to 2,000 heads of cattle per day. By comparison, Tyson’s facilities in the US process around 20,000 heads of cattle per day.

Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats, was quoted as saying: “This opportunity supports one of our growth strategies to expand Tyson’s global business, and we look forward to bringing our expertise and capabilities to the country of Kazakhstan.”

Bordering China, Kazakhstan is also geographically important to Tyson’s Asia development plans. China has imposed a 47% tariff on beef imports from the US, part of the two countries protracted trade war. Beef produced in Kazakhstan will not be subject to this tariff.

Kazakhstan has been positioning itself increasingly as a place for cattle farmers to do business. Ranchers from the US have imported livestock to Kazakhstan and corporations have spent millions on improving facilities and promoting beef as a part of the Kazakh diet.

But the deal with Tyson, one of the biggest meat producers in the world, marks a major moment for Kazakhstan’s meat production sector.

Kazakh PM Askar Mamin said: “Tyson is a world-class company with the expertise necessary to help Kazakhstan jump-start the transformation of our agro-protein capabilities and help us create an ecosystem that will increase our beef herd size and establish conditions to support thousands of new high-quality jobs in the country.”

— This story was first published in issue 432 of the weekly Bulletin on Dec. 27 2019

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Azerbaijan buys mulberry trees from China

DEC. 6 (The Bulletin) — Azerbaijan has bought 1m mulberry trees from China for an undisclosed amount, media reported, part of a plan to increase mulberry production across the country. The Azerbaijani government has already bought 3.5m mulberry trees from China. It has been working on a government plan to increase agriculture’s part in its economy.

— This story was first published in issue 431 of the weekly Bulletin on Dec. 9 2019

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Major Kazakh grain exporter fails to pay bond coupon

NOV. 27 (The Bulletin) — Kazexportastyk, one of Kazakhstan’s biggest grain exporters, said that it had started talks with the Kazakh government after it failed to pay a bond coupon payment to investors under a debt restructuring deal. Russia’s Sberbank indirectly bought a stake in Kazexportastyk when it loaned the company $78m last year as part of a restructuring deal. Kazexportastyk missing a coupon payment may deter investors from other Kazakh companies.

— This story was first published in issue 430 of the weekly Bulletin.

Kazakhstan to bail out Tsesnabank

ALMATY/Jan. 29 (The Conway Bulletin) — — The Kazakh government will bail out Tsesnabank, the country’s second-largest bank, for the second time in six months, once again highlighting the fragility of Kazakhstan’s financial system.

The $1.6b bailout prompted an outburst from President Nursultan Nazarbayev that finance officials and the Central Bank were “cowards” and were not doing enough to protect the system from conflicts of interests and poor bank owners.

“You are just cowards, not cabinet ministers!” Reuters quoted Mr Nazarbayev telling cabinet ministers and Central Bank officials at a meeting. “Are your hands and knees shaking too much to make a decision? What are you doing here then?”

Mr Nazarbayev is particularly sensitive about the strength of Kazakhstan’s banks. He ordered the Central Bank to tighten up its regulations of the banks after the 2008/9 Global Financial Crisis, when the Kazakh government had to buy a handful of bankrupt banks, but an economic downturn in 2014/17 showed up the sector’s continued weakness.

Some banks did prove resilient in the downturn, but the government was still forced to bail out some the more heavily-indebted larger banks and also allow a handful of smaller banks to go bankrupt.

This has hit the government’s resources, dented its wider image for financial competence and worried ordinary people who have drawn down their bank deposits.
Tsesnabank, which is owned by Adilbek Zhaksybekov, received a $1.2b bailout in September. Mr Zhaksybekov is a close confidant of Mr Nazarbayev and his former Chief-of-Staff.


>This story was first published in issue 398 of The Conway Bulletin on Jan. 31 2019
Copyright The Conway Bulletin 2019

Berdymukhamedov appoints new head of agri-bank

OCT. 8 (The Conway Bulletin) – Myratniyaz Berdyev has been promoted to chairman of Dayhanbank State Commercial Bank of Turkmenistan, from deputy chairman, official Turkmen media reported by quoting a presidential press release. Dayhanbank focuses on supplying loans to agriculture businesses. Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov fired the bank’s previous chairman last month.


>>This story was first published in issue 388 of The Conway Bulletin on Oct. 17 2018

Comment — Bugs are destroying Georgia’s harvest

SEPT. 24 (The Bulletin) — Farming in Samegrelo, Western Georgia, in the last months has been ravaged by a new pest, the brown marmorated stink bug. 

The bug attacks hazelnut and fruit trees, feeding off their leaves. Precise numbers are not yet in, but many farmers report that they lost their entire crop. One hazelnut factory in Zugdidi says that while last year they processed 300 tonness of hazelnut per month, they are now down to 50 tonness. Many people have said more than 60% of the harvest has been lost. 

The loss is likely to have grave consequences. One farmer reported that his neighbours would struggle to buy food, as their only major source of income had been wiped out. Thousands of families in Samegrelo are affected. Hazelnut, too, previously was Georgia’s largest agricultural export. One Georgian businessman said Georgia will export $66m of hazelnut this year compared with $166m in the bumper year of 2016. Corn has been hit, too. 

The mood in Samegrelo is grim. 

People are protesting. Farmers and opposition activists say that they had warned since April, but that the government only started spraying program on June 21, after most experts had concluded that this year’s crop was lost. 

The crisis has showcased the structural weaknesses of the Georgian Dream government — the reaction was sluggish. The spraying was haphazard, and in part done before rainy days, which washed out the pesticide, a mistake they could have avoided by consulting a specialised forecast, according to an expatriate agronomist. In this context, too, local protesters say that it does not help that the 6,000 employees of the Ministry of Agriculture primarily are rural activists of the Georgian Dream. The ministry has not proven to be an apparatus that can conduct an effective containment campaign. 

The bug is reported to have crept in from Sochi, as an invasive species that came with building materials for the 2014 Winter Olympics and people on social networks now are discussing the arrival of the bug in Tbilisi.

If the government does not stem its advance in the next year, the consequences could be severe. 

>>Paul Scott is a pseudonym for a Georgia and South Caucasus analyst


— This story was first published in issue 344 of The Conway Bulletin, now called the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Sept. 24 2017.

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2017

Mirziyoyev tells forced cotton labourers to go home

TASHKENT/SEPT. 22 (The Bulletin) — Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev ordered forced labourers working in the country’s cotton fields to return home, taking a step towards banning the practice altogether.

A Conway Bulletin correspondent said that the order for forced labourers — mainly teachers, medical staff and students — to leave the fields didn’t impact the wider mass mobilisation of the workforce to pick Uzbekistan’s cotton, a mobilisation that is characterised by low wages and poor conditions. 

The Conway Bulletin, through its Silk Road Intelligencer newswire, had been one of the first news agencies to the report the news. The next day, on Sept. 23, Uzbek PM Abdulla Aripov confirmed the order.

“It’s forever,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying. “Students should study, state employees should work.” 

The use of forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields has infuriated human rights groups who successfully lobbied for Western clothing companies to stop buying Uzbek cotton. 

In the last few years, though, Uzbek officials and officials from the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) have said that the use of forced labour has been cut back. 

Human rights groups have published evidence that dispute this.

Under Pres. Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan has appeared to lurch towards a more free and open society, rejecting the authoritarian tendencies of Islam Karimov who ruled from the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union until his death in Sept. 2016.


— This story was first published in issue 344 of The Conway Bulletin, now called the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Sept. 24 2017.

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2017

Georgia fights crop eating stinkbug

TBILISI/SEPT. 21 (The Bulletin) — Georgia’s agriculture ministry said it would deploy planes to drop chemical pesticides over thousands of acres of agriculture land in the west of the country to stop the spread of the Asian stinkbug.

The Asian stinkbug has been blamed for destroying thousands of tonnes of Georgia’s hazelnut harvest this year. 

Local farmers and businesses have started to turn on the government for not doing enough to stop the spread of the bug after months of warnings. The government has said in response that it has done all it can to halt the spread.


— This story was first published in issue 344 of The Conway Bulletin, now called the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Sept. 24 2017.

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2017

Azerbaijan increases exports of non-oil products

SEPT. 16  (The Bulletin) — Azerbaijan increased exports of non-oil products in the first eight months of the year by 30%, deputy economy minister Sahil Babayev was quoted by media as saying at a press conference. He said that agriculture exports had increased by 37% and industrial products by 25.4%. Azerbaijan has been looking to increase the status of non-oil products in its economy.


— This story was first published in issue 344 of The Conway Bulletin, now called the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Sept. 24 2017.

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2017