Agriculture has a significant, but a decreasing importance in the economy of Kazakhstan. Since 2010, the share of agriculture in the economic output is under 5%, which is less than 6.4% in 2005 and 8.2% in 2000. Out of the 8.5 million employed in the economy, about 1.4 million, or 16%, are employed in the sector of agriculture. 

Agriculture has a significant, but a decreasing importance in the economy of Kazakhstan. Since 2010, the share of agriculture in the economic output is under 5%, which is less than 6.4% in 2005 and 8.2% in 2000. Out of the 8.5 million employed in the economy, about 1.4 million, or 16%, are employed in the sector of agriculture.

The agrarian sector contributed a third in the 1% GDP growth in 2016. It is noteworthy, that in the crisis year 2009, when the economy seriously slowed to 1.2% yoy, without the contribution of agriculture, economic growth would have been close to zero.

A large area with different climatic and soil characteristics determines the specialization of the regions. So, the northern regions traditionally develop grain production, where agriculture forms from 15% to 25% of the gross regional product. Regions of the South are engaged in the cultivation of rice, fruits, and vegetables, and the share of agriculture there reaches 15%. The rest of the regions are mainly engaged in livestock farming with an agricultural share of less than 10%.

Due to the fact that Kazakhstan is located in the zone of risky plant farming and at the same time uses mostly outdated methods of farming, there is an extremely high volatility in total production from year to year.  For example, the growth in gross agricultural output by 15% in 2009 was sequenced by a 12% decline in 2010, in 2011 the growth reached 27%, in order to subsequently fall by 18% in 2012. In 2016, due to relatively favorable climatic conditions and land productivity, output in agriculture grew by 5.5%, compared with 3.4% in 2015.

Production output in plant farming is by 39% formed by peasant and farmer units, 31% are provided by agricultural enterprises and 30% by household farms.

The output in livestock production is by 71% dependent on the households, 15% are by peasant and farmer units and 13% provide agricultural enterprises.

Thus, taking into account crop production, almost half of the agricultural production in Kazakhstan is produced by household farms, about 30% by peasant and farmer units and slightly more than 20% by agricultural enterprises.

The activity of the household farms, in our opinion, should rather be viewed as a form of self-employment, and as a source of additional income. For example, the slaughter weight of cattle for the households is lower by 20% than that of agricultural enterprises, the egg-laying rate of hens is lower by 80%, the milk yield is twice less. This, in turn, explains the low performance of agriculture as a whole. At the same time, the farms of the population have neither incentives (they produce primarily for their own consumption) nor opportunity (lack of agricultural technology, ag-knowledge, finance) to increase productivity. Obviously, the prevailence of small-scale production of agricultural food products that are not market-oriented gives grounds for assuming a low and questionable quality of agricultural products in terms of safety.

Exports of agricultural food products of Kazakhstan passed its peak in 2012 ($3.4 billion), due to a very high crop of 2011, after which it gradually decreased to $2.1 billion in 2016. The share of agricultural exports in the country's total exports was 6%. The main export item for agrarian products is grain, whose exports bring more than $1 billion per year on average over the past 10 years, and together with the export of flour, the share of these products exceed 60% of total exports. At the same time, there is a gradual decrease in grain exports and from 2015 Kazakhstan dropped out of the top ten world grain exporters. Other export products also decline, following the prices in the world market, where there was a decline in prices for plant products, while prices for beef remained almost unchanged, but increased for poultry meat.

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