Mazhilis approves law ratifying Kazakh-UNFAO agreement

ASTANA – Opening United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) partnership and liaison offices in the capital and Almaty will attract at least $20 million a year, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Umirzak Shukeyev.

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The Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) approved the draft law “On ratification of the agreement between the Kazakh Government and FAO on the establishment of the FAO Liaison and Partnership Bureau in Kazakhstan” at a June 13 plenary meeting.

“With the involvement of FAO experts, the projects in the agro-industrial complex will be co-financed as part of the partnership programme which will attract at least $20 million a year,” Shukeyev said.

One of the goals in launching the FAO office is to introduce international statistics standards in agriculture.

“We want to use the experience of FAO and work to improve and clarify the information in the private sector,” he noted.

FAO has been coordinating with Kazakhstan since the country’s accession to the organisation in 1997. The two entities signed an agricultural cooperation agreement on May 23, 2015.

“To date, FAO has implemented more than 70 projects with grant financing of more than $65.5 million in Kazakhstan. In addition, FAO is launching seven projects with a total funding of $130 million in 2018-2019 to create and enhance Kazakhstan’s capacity in agricultural policy, crops, livestock, land sustainable management and water resources, their planning, forestry and fisheries,” said Shukeyev.

FAO is a specialised agency of the UN that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Its members include 194 countries, the European Union (EU) and two associated organisations.

“We assume that this office can become a sub-regional office to cover the whole Central Asia region in the future. The FAO sub-regional office for Central Asia is located in Ankara. The plan is that the office will be located in Astana by the necessity of proximity to the authorised state bodies for daily joint work in the sphere of the agro-industrial complex. There are also plans to establish a branch in Almaty, as the head of state set the task to establish a hub of UN organisations there,” he noted.

The staff will consist of 20 employees, including local technical experts, foreign experts and technical personnel. The office head will be appointed from international experts in consultation with the government.

“The authorised deputy will be a resident of Kazakhstan. The government’s contribution to the bureau will be the free provision of the relevant premises and office equipment, an annual fee of $300,000 for operating expenses. These expenses are included in the budget of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 2019-2021,” said Shukeyev.

Opening the office provides certain advantages.

“It will improve the image of the country [as one] with high potential in agriculture and food production. Kazakhstan will be able to promote priority areas of agriculture in the global dialogue. As for socio-economic benefits, FAO has multi-disciplinary expertise, knowledge and experience in food security, agricultural and rural development,” he added.

The agreement identifies priority areas to enhance the Kazakhstan-FAO partnership programme – food safety and organic food production, animal health and livestock production, pasture and phytosanitary management, sustainable natural resource management, fisheries and aquaculture, information technologies for agricultural statistics and related data collection and analysis.