Kazakh-Israeli Agro Forum Expected to Grow Innovation

TasmanAlmaty will host a Kazakh-Israeli agricultural business forum on June 24 and 25. Major Israeli companies will present innovative solutions and the latest drip irrigation, crop protection, fish farm, post-harvest processing, dairy production, horticulture and crop production technologies.

The event will serve as a platform for further agricultural cooperation and build new and existing partnerships between Kazakhstan and Israel.

“Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Israel Yair Shamir will head the Israeli delegation along with five others,” Ambassador of Israel to Kazakhstan Eliyahu Tasman said in an interview with The Astana Times. “The minister is planning to visit three countries in the region starting with Georgia, then he is off to Kazakhstan and then he is headed to Uzbekistan,” the ambassador explained.

During the visit, the minister will meet the Akim (mayor) of Almaty Akhmetzhan Yessimov and open a business forum that will host 24 Kazakh companies including major corporate players such as KazAgro Product and Oil Real Estate, amongst others, followed by presentations from Israeli companies, roundtable talks and meetings.

“The minister and I are planning to visit a farm that is fully operated by the LR Group, an Israeli company located about an hour away from Almaty. At the facility, they raise livestock and grow corn amongst other things,” the ambassador explained.

Upon returning to Astana, Shamir intends to meet with his counterpart, Minister of Agriculture of Kazakhstan Assylzhan Mamytbekov and other ministers, Tasman said.

“KazAgro, KazAgro Finance and other major Kazakh companies will host a round table and discuss past projects in Kazakhstan with their Israeli counterparts,” the ambassador said.

Tasman underscored the importance of this visit by stating that this will be perhaps the first ever visit of its type with so many leading agricultural companies and state officials representing the two countries.

“I have already mentioned this before and I would like to emphasise it once more. It is true that Israel boasts high technological achievements in agriculture, but we are not the only country operating in Kazakhstan, hence we need to do things right. I say, if you come to Kazakhstan [to do business] you need to stay [permanently,]” Tasman insists that to successfully run a business in Kazakhstan, just establishing and launching it, then departing the country is not enough.

“I also keep saying that [the Israelis] need to invest from 15 to 20 percent of their money. This way, both sides have guarantees of long lasting business ventures. Kazakhstan will be assured that the Israelis are not just here to teach and leave. If Israeli companies adhere to my formula, both sides will benefit.”

“I think the investment climate is very favourable in Kazakhstan today, as the President [Nazarbayev] said, Kazakhstan probably has one of the best investment climates in the world. Taxes are low [for doing business,] some 20 billion US dollars will be allotted by the state as part of the AgroBusiness 2020 programme to support small and mid-sized businesses. I see the picture from all angles. Firstly, Kazakhstan is not a big market, the population is only 17 million, however, it will be a market of 170 million once the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) comes into effect in January 2015; this market will also be one that grows. Secondly, Kazakhstan is facing a shortage of meats and vegetables; the country currently imports these products,” he said. “Why not produce them in country? It is possible and we [the Israelis] have great technology and need to share our expertise; we can show Kazakhstan what to produce and what not to.”

“My first objective as ambassador was to demonstrate how big Kazakhstan is and how comfortable it was to work in the country; today, leading Israeli companies are here eager to engage in projects with Kazakhstan,” the ambassador said. “There were other Israelis that had worked in the bountiful Central Asian country but had left after only a short period of time”. A greenhouse founder from Israel left after three years, which was enough to make it fully operational. I keep reminding all Israelis – if you don’t do this, others will do it instead of you.”

Tasman also noted that joining the EEU will create more opportunities for the Kazakh economy.

“Israel is interested in being a part of the EEU. We are interested in being a part of every economic union. Joining them is imperative to us,” he underlined. “We need to clearly distinguish and draw a thick line between political and economic unions,” Tasman emphasised.

According to the ambassador, Almaty is home to the largest Jewish community in Kazakhstan and this business forum was organised by the Embassy of the State of Israel in the Republic of Kazakhstan, KazAgro and the Union of Beekeepers of Kazakhstan Ball-Ara.

“I would like to thank the Honorary Consul of Israel and former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Sergey Tereshchenko, who helped to make visit happen,” the ambassador concluded.

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