FAO and Kazakhstan Ministry of Agriculture joint session examines organic prospects through lens of 2030 Agenda

 15 June 2017, Astana, KazakhstanThe potential of organic agricultural production in Kazakhstan – and its contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals – was the focus of a high-level event here today, organized jointly by FAO and Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Agriculture.

International and national experts, farmers, food producers and processors, nongovernmental organizations, and representatives of relevant government institutions had gathered to discuss food security and safety both globally and at the regional level through the prism of the 2030 Agenda, a collection of goals for countries and the global community to achieve by the year 2030. The prospects for developing organic food production were the focus of the session.

Potential for organic in Kazakhstan

“The potential for growth of the organic industry is immense in Kazakhstan, mainly for increasing production volumes of commodities where the country has a comparative advantage,” said Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, FAO senior natural resources officer and organic focal point.

Today, just 8 percent of land used for cereal production is reported to be under certified organic management. Considering that organic agriculture is based on crop rotation, other promising commodities are pulses and oil seeds, along with soil-regenerating pasture phases. Grazing ruminants including cattle and sheep could also be certified organic – responding to high demand on the organic market.

Kazakhstan is moving forcefully to establish its organic guarantee system. The Organic Law was adopted in November 2015. Currently, standards are being developed for organic production, certification and labelling, and the Ministry of Agriculture is finalizing an Organic Action Plan.

Producers need access to international markets and for this, the credibility of Kazakh organic standards is crucial. FAO is providing assistance in this area, aligning the national system with international requirements – as defined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission Guidelines for Organic Food and other relevant certification and conformity assessment standards.

Food security and the 2030 Agenda

Taken as a whole, the Europe and Central Asia region is now one of the leading commodity exporters in the world. Growth in food production since 2000 – combined with diminished demand for feed grains – has led to the creation of a sizeable grain export surplus in the region.

Kazakhstan achieved the hunger-reduction target at national level as early as 2006. The country today is a key grain producer and exporter in the region, significantly contributing to the food security of neighboring countries.

The region as a whole achieved the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the prevalence of undernourishment. Today, less than 5 percent of people in Europe and Central Asia are undernourished – the lowest rate among the world’s five major regions.

 Kazakhstan and FAO

Cooperation between Kazakhstan and FAO has been constantly evolving since the country became a member of the Organization in 1997. FAO’s assistance in Kazakhstan focuses on these priority areas: food safety and organic food production, animal health and livestock production, pasture and phytosanitary management, sustainable natural resources management, fisheries and aquaculture, and information technologies for agriculture statistics.

FAO at Expo 2017 Astana

Today’s session was the first in a series of FAO-sponsored conferences and consultations that will take place on the grounds of Expo 2017 Astana – from July to October 2017. Events will look at different aspects of boosting Kazakhstan’s agricultural sector.

Upcoming events include: an International Conference on Energy-Smart Food, an International Seminar on the Experience of the Russian Federation in Value Chain Development, and discussions on developing pulses production and on support to small holders in rural areas.

A specialized agency of the United Nations system, FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger. It helps countries to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. FAO focuses special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world’s poor and hungry people. For more information, visit: www.fao.org or follow FAO on Twitter @FAOnews.