Against the trend, Kazakhstan hopes to grow pork exports

07-02-2019 | |
A look inside a professional pig farm near Pavlodar, in the north east of Kazakhstan. Photo: Friedrich-Wilhelm Busse
A look inside a professional pig farm near Pavlodar, in the north east of Kazakhstan. Photo: Friedrich-Wilhelm Busse

Although most forecasts indicate that Kazakhstan’s pig industry is heading for extinction, the Kazakh Union of Pig Farmers recently adopted a development programme targeting a significant increase in production capacities with export opportunities.

In the plan, Russia and China would be the main targets of the exports. By 2025, the Kazakh Union of Pig Farmers hopes to establish pork export of around 100,000 tonnes per year. With the improved effectiveness and decreased production costs, an export price of around US$ 3.5 per kg would be a great deal for the Kazakhstan pig farmers, said Viktor Lim, chairman of the Kazakhstan Union of Pig Farmers. The plan requires increasing the domestic pig population by 1.2 million head.

For pork, the Indian model might be an example

In an interview with Forbes Kazakhstan, Mr Lim spoke about the future iof the swine industry in the predominantly Muslim country. He hinted that for Kazakhstan it would be possible to follow a similar path like in India, where people do not eat beef. Yet, Mr Lim said, the country is one of the major exporters of this type of meat on the global market. That is a model Kazakhstan could think about with regard to pigs, he explained.

Adding to the optimism is the 2017 agricultural development programme, adopted by the national government, which included some state aid to pig farmers for the 1st time in many years.

Picture of pig production is not too rosy

Currently, the picture of pig production is not too rosy. The country’s pig population has gradually been shrinking over the past 2 decades. Although no African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks have been reported, the country’s number of pigs decreased from over 3 million in the early 1990s to just over 800,000 in 2017, as can be seen in our Global Pig Statistics tool.

In 2017, Kazakhstan’s pig industry amounted to 94,000 tonnes. There were no export supplies at all, and the country even imported 2,400 tonnes to meet the domestic demand.

Kazakh citizens consume less pork

The main reason of the general downward trend is related to the population build-up, said Mr Lim. The share of Muslims in Kazakhstan is constantly growing, which means that citizens consume more lamb and horsemeat and less pork. Moreover, the government and banking industry have become less tolerant to the pig industry.

The Kazakh pig business in general is not very productive. He said that in Kazakhstan, sows reach on average 7-9 piglets per sow per year, reaching a production rate of about 1,000 kg/year. On top of that, there is a lack of breeding pigs and the Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) leaves a lot to be desired.

What does a professional pig farm in Kazakhstan look like? We went on-farm at RubiKom

Mr Lim stated that the pig business’ efficiency has to be improved. Progress is underway, as there is a big breeding farm under construction in the country for 73 billion Kazakh tenge (US$ 190 million), which could significantly improve genetic supply in the industry. There is also a surplus of grain on the domestic market, offering plenty of opportunities.

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Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern Europe correspondent