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World thought leaders to gather for new Astana Economic Forum

01 May 2018 10:56 AM | Bakytzhamal Jetmekova

ASTANA – The former President of France and the former Secretary-General of the United Nations and other international thought leaders will gather in Astana May 17-19 for the 11th Astana Economic Forum (AEF). The name of the forum is being changed this year to the Global Challenges Summit (GCS) 2018, says a press release by AEF organisers.

Former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, Chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s Ethics Commission Hans Timmer, Chief Economist for the Europe and Central Asian region of the World Bank and former French President Francois Hollande are among those who will participate. Other participants will include leaders in the worlds of business, science and art who will look at current global risks and opportunities.

The technological revolution of recent years has created world-changing megatrends affecting countries, businesses and the world’s population. Economic growth and resource resilience, digitisation and urbanisation, longevity and financial revolution, global security and cultural shift will be among the summit’s topics.

The summit will include more than 200 speakers from more than 27 countries to debate the world’s most important challenges and discuss solutions to create a safer and more sustainable planet. Participants will also include Michio Kaku, physicist, co-founder of the string field theory and populariser of science, Jim O’Neill, former Goldman Sachs chief economist known for coining the BRIC acronym, Parag Khanna, international relations expert and visionary strategist of urban development, Mikheil Janelidze, Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Toomas Ilves, Estonia’s former president, Krzysztof Zanussi, film director and winner of the Golden Lion, the highest prize of the Venice Film Festival and others.

Kazakhstan’s senior executive officials and heads of state-owned companies and development agencies will participate in the discussion on the country’s strategies for adapting to the rapidly changing world and its role in developing the Central Asia region.

GCS 2018 follows Astana’sEXPO 2017 with its subject of Future Energy, which provided the backdrop for Kazakhstan to announce its large-scale Third Modernisation aimed at pushing the country into the top 30 of the world’s strongest economies by means of breakthroughs in innovative development, institutional reforms and extensive international integration.

The Astana Economic Forum will be held at the EXPO Congress Centre and Hilton Astana.

We need more livestock, says Kazakh agriculture vice minister Astana Times, 26 April 2018

ASTANA – Kazakhstan needs to increase its livestock population, according to First Vice Minister of Agriculture Arman Yevniyev. The ministry expects the new cattle farming development programme will raise the population from seven million to 15 million heads.

First Vice Minister of Agriculture Arman Yevniyev. Photo credit: Agriculture Ministry press service

He noted cattle farming is a “most optimal element” for agricultural production due to its relatively low cost and high quality, and the 10-year programme seeks to capitalise on these advantages.

Possessing vast grasslands and ranking fifth in the world with more than 180 million hectares of pastures, livestock has been a key component of Kazakh agriculture as well as a source of income and employment for the rural population which accounts for roughly half of the nation’s total population.

The new development programme addresses acute issues in the field, said Yevniyev.

“We see a big potential for livestock development. The country has all the resources to develop the sector,” he added. “The infrastructure is there, but we need to increase the livestock.”

The programme is meant to create a “new class of farmers” by growing the number of farms from 20,000 to 100,000 and raising rural employment from 100,000 to 500,000. With poverty in rural areas (4.9 percent) almost four times higher than in urban areas (1.3 percent), additional employment opportunities are of paramount importance.

Export revenues are forecast to reach $2.4 billion, he added.

Large meat industry companies, including Australian Cedar Group, Chinese Rifa Holding, Citic Group and Inalca Eurasia, will be investing in the programme. Developing cattle farming comes with certain challenges, however, including the search for money and land.

“The first challenge for farmers that are thinking about starting their business is where to get money.

There is no money [easily available]. The programme addresses this issue,” said Yevniyev.

KazAgro, the leading Kazakh leasing company with a more than 70-percent share, will provide 15-year loans to farmers at a subsidised 4-percent interest rate. The funds can be used to purchase stock for further breeding and agriculture machinery and equipment or construct livestock housing.

Approximately 50 billion tenge (US$152.2 million) will be allocated to support farmers this year, said KazAgro Board Chair Nurlybek Malelov.

“There was no such thing before. The second question is where to get land. The programme has an answer to this question as well. Comprehensive work is being done. All the recent changes provide a mechanism to confiscate pastures and give them to those who need this,” he noted.

Pastures will be given without competition.

“We were reviewing the regions and some farms were found to be possessing hundreds or more than a million hectares and it is clear there is no livestock. This will be equal to irrational use of lands and will be subject to confiscation,” said Yevniyev.

More specialists are needed, he added, as “lack of competency and knowledge” is hampering development.

“With the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, we run the Bastau Business (Start Business) programme funded by the national budget, where anyone willing to take up the business can learn how to work with livestock and other specifics,” he added.