A UNDP report says that the average annual air temperature in Kazakhstan has increased by 1.5-2 0 in the last 50 years. Kazakhstan, like other countries in Central Asia, is included in the group of countries more vulnerable due to climate change. The reason for it is dry environmental conditions and being a landlocked country.
The Report sights more and more evidence of climate change in the Central Asian region in form of the fluctuations of temperature rise, as well as waves of cold and heat, more droughts occur, the lack of water and related conflicts increase.
Glaciers in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, being “water stations” of Central Asia, decrease dramatically. In Tajikistan only, where about 60% of freshwater of Central Asia is stored, their volume reduced by 30% in a few recent decades, and more than 1000 glaciers are almost extinct. Alongside this, droughts and dust storms in this region occur almost with double frequency in the last decades.
Climate change is also affecting agriculture in the region. To discuss the climatic changes and their effects on agriculture, more than 100 leading scientists, academics, and experts from Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan gathered in Kazakhstan’s largest city and business hub, Almaty, for an international conference entitled: “Adaptation of crop production to the conditions of global climate change: problems and solutions”.
Kazakh National Agrarian Research University Rector Professor Tlektes Yespolov, who is also the Chairman of the Board, presided and moderated the Conference that was organized by the Kazakh Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture and Plant Industry and held in the Almaty region’s Karasai district.
In his speech, Professor Yespolov termed climate change and its impact on the environment as one of the major challenges of the 21st century. He said that weather patterns are changing on the planet. Unusual rainstorms, hailstorms, floods, hurricanes, and snow blockages are affecting agricultural patterns and productivity also.
In addition, anthropogenic factors have played, are taking place, and are playing an equally important role, especially in the degradation of soil and other agricultural lands and, in general, the entire biodiversity – vegetation, wildlife, and microorganisms.
Professor Yespolov said that more than 10 million hectares of arable land are lost annually in the world: from erosion – 6 million hectares, alienation for non-agricultural needs – 3 million hectares, salinization, and waterlogging – 2-3 million hectares.
Kazakhstan faces the threat of water shortage that would intensify drought. According to forecasts, the shortage of water, including the transboundary aspect, may increase up to 40% by 2030, and this may create serious obstacles to economic and social development and the preservation of natural systems. Such water deficiency may cause the degradation of lake and river ecosystems, agriculture, fisheries, and tourism.
The UNDP report says that aquatic ecosystems in Kazakhstan are particularly vulnerable, so unless timely measures are taken, the tragedy of the Aral Sea may be repeated on Balkhash Lake, in the Ural River delta, and other ecosystems and the well-being of many millions of people living there depends on their condition.
Climate stress factors are harming agriculture productivity. Kazakhstan is among the top 10 wheat exporting countries of the world but it is feared that by 2030, wheat yields can be reduced by almost 40%, which threatens food security in the entire Centra Asian region.
Kazakhstan’s rural population in several regions of the country is dependent on livestock, fodder sources, and pasture conditions. These regions have been facing abnormal droughts due to climate change. UNDP says that in many villages, people were unprepared: they were left without water and fodder, and a lot of livestock died. At the same time, rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns can also lead to outbreaks of agricultural pests.
Referring to the UNDP report, Professor Yespolov said that Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, is more affected by climate change than the rest because the agricultural regions are located in the zone of risky farming. It has been proven that up to 70% of the risks in these regions are associated with weather dynamics.
“Crop losses from adverse weather conditions in some years range from 50 to 70%,” revealed Professor Yespolov.
To support and boost the country’s agriculture sector, the Kazakh Government has been developing a project, the Agro-Industrial Complex, and has set targets that would be achieved between 2021 and 2030. These are:
1. Providing 90 % of the country’s population with socially significant food products
2. Increasing the income of rural entrepreneurs;
3. An increase in labor productivity in the agriculture sector by three times compared to 2020;
4. Doubling the exports of agricultural products over this period.
Kazakh National Agrarian Research University (KazNARU) has been playing a central role in achieving the goals of the Ago-Industrial Complex.
“The current state and role of agro-industrial production in Kazakhstan in economic development are one of the most pressing issues. Kazakhstan has the potential not only to develop the country’s agro-industrial complex and the well-being of the population but also to become the world’s leading agricultural state by exporting a wide range of agricultural products,” said Professor Tlektes Yespolov in concluding his remarks at the International Conference.
Birzhan Usubaliev Director of the Kyrgyz Research Institute of Agriculture, Maksat Nurdinov Director of the Kyrgyz Research Institute of Animal Husbandry and Pastures, Dr. Ismail Abdelkhamid Director of the Department of Programs and Projects of the Islamic Organization for Food Security attended the Conference.
Gani Kaliev, the President of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Darkhan Balpanov, Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and several regional governors and experts attended the conference and shared their opinions.
The participants of the Conference also took part in a “Field Day”.
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