Basic National Conditions
Located in the hinterland of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is very suitable for growing grain and cash crops because of abundant sunshine and water resources. It covers 19.1 million hectares, of which agricultural lands account for 55.4 percent. Arable lands cover 1.3 million hectares, of which 1.2 million hectares are suitable for growing crops. Cultivated lands on a per capita basis cover about 0.2 hectares. The area of natural pasture is large, making up about 48.3 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s agricultural lands. This country sits in the upstream region of Syr Darya and Amu Darya, so that its water resources are richer than other countries in Central Asia. Its average annual precipitation is over 1,000 millimeters, but it doesn’t make full use of the water resources.
Kyrgyzstan focuses on farming and animal husbandry which plays an important role in its national economy. The government has rolled out a series of policies and measures to advance agriculture. Thanks to those measures, added value in agriculture increases steadily. By 2016, agricultural output in Kyrgyzstan was about USD 2.331 billion, accounting for 14.06 percent of its GDP.
Major grain crops include wheat, barley, maize, rice, oat, rye and sorghum. Cash crops mainly include cotton, tobacco, fruits and vegetables. However, Kyrgyzstan is scarce in the varieties of fruits and vegetables, not to mention their less attractive external and internal quality. As for vegetables, the country mainly has potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. As for fruits, it has apples, grapes, pomegranates, watermelons, melons, persimmons, pears and cherries. Many varieties of fruits and vegetables are dependent on imports. With a large share of cultivated lands and per capita arable lands, Kyrgyzstan attaches great importance to food production. However, the per unit yield of major crops is low and economic effects of farming are yet to be improved. Economic investments in agriculture are inadequate. Pesticides and fertilizers are insufficient. Only 30 percent of the cultivated lands use pesticides. Hence, insect problems and crop smothering are serious. Erysiphe graminis sweeps large areas. Severe plant diseases and insect pests will reduce the yield of 70 percent of food crops, which makes Kyrgyzstan unable to provide enough food for its people. Therefore, one of the country’s important strategies is to ensure its food security. It abounds in grassland resources, which brings unique benefits to the pasture-livestock industry. Animal husbandry mainly includes raising cattle, sheep and horses. An exporting prowess lies in living animals, meat, skin and milk of cattle and sheep. In recent years, its export has seen a slight but steady increase. In 2016, the gross output of animal husbandry reached USD 1.267 billion.
Material and technological foundation of agriculture in Kyrgyzstan is weak. This is mostly shown in the mechanization of agriculture. Machinery only represents 8 percent in agricultural real estate assets. Agricultural production largely depends on irritation, while insufficient watering facilities hold back the agricultural development. Seed-breeding techniques are backward. For instance, the wheat seeds for this year are selected from the commercial ones of the previous year. Their glutelin contents are 18 percent less than their counterparts in Kazakhstan. Flour made from Kyrgyzstan’s wheat is unable to serve as the raw material of bread or Naan bread. Processing technology for agricultural products are also backward. The country’s processing capability and equipment technology cannot fulfill the processing demand of its agricultural products. One of the major industries to encourage foreign investment is processing agricultural products. Besides, in chemical services of agriculture, the quantity and quality of fertilizers and pesticides cannot sufficiently meet agricultural demand.
In the future, there will be some outstanding technical issues facing the agricultural planning. The government needs to figure out the ways to develop water-saving technology for irrigation so as to increase irrigated areas, improve crop yield per unit and stress resistance, introduce solar greenhouse technology and protected agriculture technology to improve the production of fruits and vegetables, introduce techniques to prevent and control crop diseases and pests, and use efficient pesticide technology. As for planting technology, Kyrgyzstan can improve crop yield per unit through intensifying cooperation, introducing and promoting new types and new planting patterns. It can also lower the threshold of the import of pesticides, and introduce large-sized enterprises manufacturing pesticides and fertilizers to increase the use of pesticides and fertilizers per unit and make agriculture productive. Many crucial sectors of Kyrgyzstan’s produces lag behind, including process, transport, fresh keeping and storage. Technology is backward in those sectors. The country needs to strengthen its cooperation with powerful and competitive leading companies. The government should offer more preferential policies about loans, taxes and customs to give priority to boosting the export of products, including meat, skin and fur of cattle and sheep, and cotton.
In the “National Strategy for Sustainable Development of Kyrgyz Republic for 2013-2017” made by the government, Kyrgyzstan will focus on developing regional agriculture in the coming five years. The central government asked regional authorities to make full use of foreign investment, improve and build irrigation system to address problems of insufficient watering on agricultural lands. It also asks local governments to develop seed-breeding industry, animal husbandry, inspect and quarantine animals and plants. Besides, the central government supports local farmers and brings actual benefits to local economy. In the meantime, in order to tackle the problem of high cost due to poor transport infrastructure, Kyrgyzstan’s government will fund highways in its states, and apply to the international community for a loan to implement some new road projects, including the road around the Issyk Kul Lake. In recent years, according to the requirement of the World Trade Organization, Kyrgyzstan has adjusted its import taxes several times. Most imports without tariffs are resource-based products that the country lacks, including seeds and breeding stocks. Although the overall level of its import taxes is low, the import taxes of specific products remain high. The import taxes of the goods which belong to the national protective sectors (meat, dairy products, produces, textiles and other light industrial goods) are high.