Kazakhstan looks to invigorate beef production industry
According to a Global Agricultural Information Network report, published by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, as part of the Kazakhstan Ministry of Agriculture’s plans for the redevelopment of the sector, the country will look to increase the seedstock of commercial cattle to 1.5m head, up from 311,000 in August 2013, while upping the share of pure-bred beef cattle to 40-50% of the total number of commercial cattle, by 2020.
Among the key challenges the country has identified as impeding the development of its beef sector, are the low proportion of pedigree animals in the total beef population – only 8.2%, the low productivity of its commercial cattle population, its small number of dedicated feedlots, and a lack of technical regulations for the production of livestock products meeting the world standards for halal and organic, for example.
The total cattle population in the Republic of Kazakhstan has reduced steadily since 1990, from 9.76m head, to 5.69m head in 2012, with the number of beef cattle dropping from 709,600 tonnes (t) to 373,500t over the same period, leading to a significant increase in imports.
According to the report, the cattle slaughter rate in the country is much higher than the recommended FAO rate – at 43% of its total population, compared to 30-35%. With increased demand for beef, the cattle population has declined as farmers are having to sell more beef than is required to maintain or grow the population. "Ultimately, this trend may cause total dependance of the country on beef imports," said the report.
The Ministry suggested that a way out of the current situation was to create favourable conditions for farm business, where raising cattle on a farm would be more beneficial than selling them, "and to import cattle population from other countries in order to achieve an increase in seedstock in the country" as soon as possible.
"Meanwhile, a temporary beef deficiency will be compensated by meat from the Customs Union (CU) member-states," it added.
The report identified a number of conditions necessary for the development of the beef cattle sector, which included low-cost feed production, high genetic potential and the availability of marketing outlets.
It said the country exported an average of five million tonnes of grain, which could be used as feed for the production of high-quality beef. It has calculated that export revenues amounted to US$200,000, but that, converted into the equivalent amount sold in tonnes of beef (250t), sales would amount to more than US$1.5m.
In terms of genetic potential, Kazakhstan is keen to develop premium cattle, which it said was key to the competitiveness and profitability of the sector. In 2012, the country average slaughter weight for carcases amounted to 154kg, compared to countries with a more developed industry, which achieved weights of around 250kg, something which is it keen to improve.
The plan also noted the potential of Russia and China as export markets – Kazakhstan has exported little beef since 1990 – due to the volumes of beef imported there every year, as well as the premium beef markets in South Korea, Japan, EU member states and the Persian Gulf countries.
The report contained unofficial translations of the Ministry’s plan.