Kazakhstan’s pig industry shrinks

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Numbers on Kazakhstan's pig farms are falling, forcing government intervention
Numbers on Kazakhstan's pig farms are falling, forcing government intervention

Related tags Soviet union Kazakhstan Livestock Pork

Kazakhstan’s pig population has fallen by 6.4% or 831,300 head between 2015 and 2016, according to data from the State Statistical Agency. 

The official information revealed that the country’s pig industry has being shrinking for two decades in a row. For example, in 2007, Kazakhstan’s pig farms contained 1.35 million pigs, while in 2012, that figure had declined to at 1.03 million.

According to Berik Dusembinov, member of Kazakhstan’s Parliament, the poor conditions of the country’s pig industry have forced the government to redistribute state aid in its State Program of Agro-Industrial Complex Development for 2017-2021, as subsidies for growing cattle, sheep, goats and horses have been significantly cut to raise additional funds for pig farmers.

Dusembinov claimed that, as a result, the amount of state aid for the pig industry had increased 19-fold from KZT16.5 million ($60,000) in 2016 to KZT315m ($1m) in 2017. However, this measure was senseless, he claimed, because Kazakhstan’s government had been supporting the industry for quite a long period of time and, while the level of support was significant, it had brought no real results.

More support for pork producers

In early February, therefore, he appealed to the country’s government, asking it to reconsider the decision on state aid and calling on it not to abandon support for producers of beef​, lamb and horsemeat in favour of pork.

Meanwhile, Viktor Lim, chairman of Kazakhstan’s Pig Farmers Association, said the country’s pig industry had good potential, including the development of exports to China and Russia. In the 1990s, following the crash of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan accounted for 3 million head of pigs, but this figure has dropped almost fourfold. According to Lim, the most important measure needed to overcome the industry’s crisis is to create the country’s first selection and breeding centre in order to meet farmers’ demands for pedigree stock.

Kazakhstan’s pig farmers have had to deal with some social pressures and this could be also considered a reason for the industry’s problems. Previously, the Soviet authorities had neglected all religion, but in the 1990s Kazakhstan​ experienced a new surge in national identity and, with it, a rise in the country’s Muslim population. According to official government estimates, the share of Muslims in the country is now 70% and is rising steadily.

Meanwhile, according to Lim, Kazakhstan’s pig industry still has some positive growth prospects, associated primarily with the development of exports. He cited the example of India, where the cow is a sacred animal and most of population does not consume beef, but the country still exports it. The same model could be applied [to the pig industry] in Kazakhstan, he said. However, in order to develop exports, pig farmers still needed to improve efficiency, as the cost per 100kg of pig was 25% higher than in Denmark, he estimated.

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