This page features a compilation and selection of Central Asia seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in central Asia countries.
The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.
This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent briefs listed first.
Extension of wheat import ban in Kazakhstan: August 11: The interdepartmental commission on foreign trade policy and participation in international economic organizations, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Trade and Integration Minister Serik Zhumangarin, has decided to extend the ban on wheat imports in Kazakhstan for an additional six months. The decision aims to address 'grey schemes' involving wheat imports and re-exports from regions bordering Russia by road. Exceptions include the allowance of seed imports by road with a valid seed quality certificate. Import restrictions via railway continue, except for licensed elevators, grain processors, and poultry farms. The Agriculture Ministry is set to prepare the corresponding decree. Source
Kazakhstan to boost grain exports to China: July 13: Kazakhstan and China have unveiled plans to ramp up grain trade from central to east Asia, targeting an increase up to 1 million tons. The discussions transpired during a meeting between Agriculture Minister Yerbol Karashukeyev and Ze Zhu, Vice President of China’s COFCO food processing holding company. Kazakhstan's impressive agricultural potential was emphasized, backed by its 2022 record of 22 million tons of harvested grain and leguminous crops, including 16.4 million tons of wheat. Notably, COFCO stands as the primary importer of Kazakh wheat to China. Ongoing export contracts, including a 75,000-ton wheat supply deal, are confirmed for fulfillment. The talks further encompassed potential acquisitions of other crops like flax, barley, sunflower, and rapeseed. The Chinese delegation also conducted site visits to Kazakhstan's bread-receiving enterprises and grain farming centers. Source.
Kyrgz Inflation remains elevated amidst global price decrease: July 4: Despite a gradual decline in worldwide food and oil costs, inflation projections remain high, impacting households' resilience. The June 2023 mobile vulnerability survey by WFP highlights 10 percent of the population as acutely food insecure, with 51 percent only marginally food secure. The provinces of Talas (16 percent) and Osh (15 percent) face the highest food insecurity levels due to economic challenges. The Kyrgyz Republic's GDP grew by 3.4 percent in January-May 2023, adding 355 billion Kyrgyz soms ($4.1 billion) to the economy. The IMF forecasts a 3.5 percent slowdown in annual GDP growth due to the global crisis's effects on the economy. Source.
Wheat, bean and maize project in Georgia: May 12: The Standing Committee on the Funding Strategy and Resource Mobilization of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture approved the project titled "Strengthening linkages between in-situ/on-farm and ex-situ conservation of local Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture from Georgia and use for adaptation to climate change." The project focuses on wheat, bean, and maize. The LEPL Scientific Research Center of Agriculture (SRCA) will administer the project. A funding request of $250,000.00 has been allocated for a period of 48 months. Source
Locust outbreak threatens Afghan food security: May 10: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has issued a warning about a severe outbreak of the Moroccan Locust in eight provinces of North and Northeast Afghanistan, which are crucial wheat-producing areas. Sightings of locusts at various stages of development have been reported in multiple provinces, with additional reports emerging from other regions. The FAO Representative in Afghanistan, Richard Trenchard, expressed deep concern about the outbreak, stating that the Moroccan Locust poses a significant threat to farmers, communities, and the entire country. Historical data indicates that previous outbreaks have resulted in substantial losses of wheat production, with estimates suggesting up to 25 percent of annual harvests being affected. This year's outbreak could lead to crop losses ranging from 700,000 to 1.2 million metric tonnes of wheat, equating to economic losses of approximately USD 280 million to USD 480 million. The North and Northeast regions of Afghanistan are particularly vulnerable to Moroccan Locust outbreaks, and this year's conditions, including drought, over-grazing, limited locust control, and suitable rainfall, have created an ideal environment for locusts to hatch and swarm. FAO, along with NGO partners, local communities, and authorities, has taken immediate action to combat the outbreak. Due to low chemical supplies, the focus has been on traditional mechanical control methods to mitigate the impact. Efforts are underway, including employing a cash-for-work approach to support farmers and accelerate control measures in affected areas. The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock has also responded promptly, although resource constraints limit their capacity to address the situation effectively. Source.
Insights into Kazakhstan tomato processing Industry: January 11: According to a two-part article, Kazakhstan has produced about 95,000 tonnes of processed tomatoes annually over the last six years, devoting about a tenth or 11% of its total fresh production (906,000 mT) to processing. It is also able to cover about 36% of its annual domestic needs, estimated to be 265,000 mT. The two-part article also reveals that In 2021, Kazakhstan’s agricultural sector accounted for approximately 5.1% of its economic production, or US$8.4 billion in value. Source.
Ag fields, residences inundated by flooding: August 21: Floods have inundated large swathes of Afghanistan farms and settlements, inflincting “heavy financial losses” on the citizens, and a tragic casualty count. Compounding the agriculture sector, which had been suffering from drought prior to this, the floods have affected thousands of acres fields, and have implications on the wheat output,” Source
Afghan wheat landrace shows promise for rust resistance: August 16: A wheat landrace from Afghanistan, which has demonstrated resistance to leaf rust and stripe rust, could be used to breed other disease-resistant wheat varieties. The landrace, tagged KU3067 was studied by researchers from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) looking to understand the “genetic basis of resistance against Mexican races of leaf rust and stripe rust”. Source.
WFP addressing food insecurity emergency in Afghanistan: February 19: The World Food Program’s latest situation report for Afghanistan notes that half of the country’s population, or about 22.8 million people “are projected to be acutely food insecure in 2022, including 8.7 million at risk of famine-like conditions”, adding that people in all 34 provinces are facing crisis or emergency levels of acute food insecurity. The WFP plans to provide food assistance to 23 million there in 2022. See full report here. Download document
Kazakhstan optimistic on grain exports: February 17: Despite a prolonged drought in 2021, Kazakhstan's Ministry of Agriculture is bullish on the prospects of the country's grain exports. The ministry increased its forecast for this year by 10% with plans to increase exports to China and the EU as well as return to previous export volumes to Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Iran. A silver lining of the drought is that although yields decreased, the quality of the grain, specifically the amount of protein it contains, has improved, making it more attractive to foreign buyers. Iran has shown a significant demand for Kazakhstan grain as the country has also recently faced droughts and crop failures. Original story here
Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture plans projects for 2021-2025: February 16: According to 2021 data from the Ministry of Agriculture, 281 investment projects worth USD 559 million have been put into operation, including 180 projects in livestock farming worth USD 318 million, and 101 projects in crop production worth USD 240 million. The ministry has set aside USD 9.6 billion for 934 projects to be implemented during 2021-2025 including dairy and poultry farms, breeding, fattening sites, and sugar factories. Original story here
Kazakh PM orders review of agriculture support measures: February 15: Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov has instructed the Ministry of Agriculture to review and optimize support mechanisms for the agricultural sector, including providing low-cost diesel fuel, seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. The PM also called for the creation of a state information system with free access for all members of the agriculture sector to be launched by the beginning of June 2022. Read original story here
Kazakhstan tops list of imported food suppliers: February 10: According to data published by the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics, Kazakhstan is the leading food supplier to the country with 34.1%, Russia 27.3%, Brazil 11.2%, Belarus 3.6%, and Ukraine 2.25%. Food imports from Kazakhstan rose to USD 996.5 million in 2021, up from USD 867.3 million in 2020. Original story here
Large greenhouse complex opens in Fergana: February 4: A new hydroponic greenhouse complex costing around USD 2.5 million has opened in the Dangara district of the Fergana region with a planned annual production of 600 tons of tomatoes and 200 tons of cucumbers. Modern commercial greenhouses have been rapidly increasing in the Fergana region with 60 hectares in 2017 increasing to 311 hectares by end of 2021, of which 84 hectares are using hydroponic technology. The trend is echoed around Uzbekistan with 398 modern greenhouses with a total area of 797 hectares in 2021 alone reaching a total area of greenhouses of 5,500 hectares. Original story in Russian here
Food inflation concern Kyrgyzstan: January 28: The cumulative effect of high food prices, globally and nationally, lower food availability and a rise in fuel prices is expected to drive consumer prices up into the first half of 2022. The poorest households, who already spend 65 percent of their income on food will the most affected, with the same food basket now costing significantly more. With Omicron virus cases rising, economic recovery for 2022 can be further slowed.
What remains of concern is the continuous increase in inflation and prices. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), has increased by 12 percent for all goods and services and by 18 percent for staple foods. It is worth noting the Government’s purchase of key food commodities last year, in a bid to stabilise prices, potentially helped a prevent a deterioration of food prices (wheat, vegetable oil and sugar was purchased for a cumulative sum of KGS 1.8 billion or USD 21.2 million). The CPI for fuel and lubricants is estimated to be at +39 percent, leading to an increase of transportation costs, which in turn affects all other prices. The abnormally high temperature this summer and lack of irrigation water led to low yields across multiple critical crops: wheat (-42 percent) barley (-46 percent), oil crops (-25.4 percent), sugar beet (-18 percent) and melons (-14 percent).
The Government continues to monitor and stabilize food markets across the country through price controls on 11 essential food items and to regulate import and export volumes
Uzbek delegation seeks climate-resilient crop options from ICRISAT: The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics shared in an October 1 tweet about a recent visit to its Indian headquarters byan Uzbek delegation seeking options for crops that could thrive in the extreme fluctuating weather and climate conditions in Uzbekistan. According to an article which the tweet linked to, the delegation were in “search of a short-duration second crop suited to arid ecologies that mature before winter. The visit aligns with the Government of Uzbekistan’s efforts to increase agricultural production through double cropping. The visitors were briefed on dryland crop options and expressed interest in academic exchanges and internships based on the Institute’s expertise in genomic technologies and dryland agri-food systems.”
Read more here.