ASTANA – Amal-Bio, a Kazakh agricultural company based in Almaty that uses the latest methods and technology in fruit cultivation, is offering Kazakhstan’s first agro tours.
“First of all, our agro tours aim to show people how apples are being grown in orchards in Kazakhstan. People can see and touch these apples, to make sure they were not imported. They can witness new technologies being used in agriculture now, too. Our farm is one of the most advanced in the country,” agro tour organiser Aleksander Lykasov told The Astana Times.
Amal-Bio’s apple orchards and gardens currently cover about 80 hectares, with plans to expand up to 1,000 hectares. A drip irrigation system, in which water is supplied directly to the root zone of the plants, is used throughout the orchard.
The orchard and gardens are located 10 kilometres from Malovodnoe Village, in a mountainous area of the Almaty region.
The first agro tour was launched this summer, just a few months ago. Tours are now usually conducted on weekends, said Lykasov.
“On the first day, you walk through the fruit and berry gardens and you learn about the many kinds of fruits and berries that grow on our land. On the way to the garden, you will learn how apples are stored in special freezers. On the second day, we take an unforgettable guided hike in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau,” says the company’s website.
The agro tours are also touted as a countryside excursion. There are two yurts in the gardens, and families come to escape busy city life, enjoy silence, breathe fresh air and swim in the company’s pool. The organiser also said that the farm is the perfect place for companies to have team building events. International companies are showing growing interest in the place.
According to Lykasov, special guides are invited for the tours. They talk about the history of Kazakhstan, also providing information about the apple industry and its roots. On the territory of the garden are several burial mounds dated to around 2,500 years of age.
Apples can be bought after the agro tour from Amal-Bio. The company also partners with Metro, Galmart, Ramstore and the Stolychniy and Yubileiniy supermarkets, where their fruit can be purchased.
Amal-Bio’s major innovation is the special, intensive farming method they use. The method allows apple trees to be harvested only a year after they were planted.
According to Amal-Bio Managing Partner Dinara Uristembayeva, the company’s high tech, new generation gardens are eco-friendly and no chemicals are used in their fruit production.
“All the latest technological innovations in the field are being used in our orchards. Our partners are companies from Germany, Italy, Belgium, Austria and France,” she said.
The company grows 14 different kinds of apples, including Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Red Jonaprince, Fuji, Braeburn, Gala and others. Only five or six types are local, Uristembayeva said.
“All other varieties have never been planted in Kazakhstan, but we are growing them on an industrial scale. Seedlings are brought from Europe,” she explained.
Though the main emphasis is apples, other stone fruits are cultivated, including sweet cherries, peaches, apricots and grapes. The company also cultivates strawberries and blueberries.
“All of them were planted three years ago, since they bear fruit only after that period of time. This year, we were impressed by the results. It was an experiment: we wanted to see how different kinds of peaches, apricots and sweet cherries can be grown in Kazakhstan, since they never were before; I mean, on an industrial scale,” said Uristembayeva.
The fruit can be cultivated in Kazakhstan if cultivated with the proper care, she said. The company intends to expand planting next year for stone fruits as well.