Entrepreneurial flair ushers in new economic prospects in Turkestan – Via harnessing of green tech and renewable energy

March 19, 2024

Greenhouse complex in Shubar village, Ordabasy district, Turkestan region

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Mukhit Baigarayev

Southern Kazakhstan’s sunny climate, with its numerous clear days per year, creates an excellent environment both for agricultural endeavours and for the use of renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels and heliocollectors. By moving away from traditional energy sources, these technologies allow local entrepreneurs to reduce energy costs and to open up new avenues for business growth thereby significantly improving the quality of life for the local community and residents of the region.

Bakhtiyar Yusupov, an entrepreneur from the Shubar village, Ordabasy district, Turkestan region, strives to maximize the use of every square metre of his land. He has developed a greenhouse complex that covers 10,000 square metres.

The greenhouse complex produces hundreds of tonnes of cucumbers and tomatoes annually, which local residents can buy at the local market

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Mukhit Baigarayev

In addition to his successful vegetable farming, Bakhtiyar is constantly exploring new opportunities to drive his agribusiness forward. This search led him to an intriguing solution: growing the paulownia tree, known for its unique environmental and economic benefits. According to Bakhtiyar, the tree's canopy can absorb up to 20 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide, its falling leaves enrich the soil with useful organic matter and, thanks to its fast-developing root system and rapid regeneration, it can effectively prevent soil erosion.

An entrepreneur planted 20,000 paulownia seedlings on a plot of land next to a greenhouse complex

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Mukhit Baigarayev
"We planted 20,000 paulownia seedlings in the immediate vicinity of the greenhouse complex, which have now grown to a height of 70 cm. This tree is unique because it regenerates quickly and continues to grow and to produce new shoots even after pruning. Paulownia wood is valued for its strength and ease of processing and is used in furniture making, car manufacturing, construction, decoration and even shipbuilding,"
says Bakhtiyar.

In the early stages of growth, the Paulownia forms roots close to the soil surface, so regular irrigation is essential for cultivation. The importance of water stems from the need to develop a large enough root system in the first year to prevent the plant from drying out. As the plant's root system matures and penetrates into deeper water-bearing layers, the need for frequent irrigation decreases.

For irrigation, Bakhtiyar relies on pumps that are powered by electricity. As frequent power cuts occurred, he installed a solar power plant to solve this problem which fully covers the company's needs and benefits the inhabitants of Shubar village. The entrepreneur also generates additional income by selling surplus electricity.

"An uninterrupted power supply is crucial for us as it ensures the operation of the pumps for watering the plants. Previously, we were heavily dependent on the central power grid and had to rely on a diesel generator in case of frequent outages. When we installed a 100-kilowatt solar power plant, we became independent, moved away from diesel fuel and now enjoy additional economic benefits by selling the surplus," says Bakhtiyar.

Bakhtiyar Yusupov, entrepreneur from Shubar village, Ordabasy district, Turkestan region

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Mukhit Baigarayev

In regions with an unstable power supply, the use of renewable energy technologies plays a crucial role in supporting local entrepreneurship by solving various challenges. These include ensuring continuous access to electricity, essential for the uninterrupted operation of small and medium enterprises, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, which leads to lower operating costs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which strengthens the environmental responsibility of businesses. Switching to renewable energy sources opens new opportunities for the local economy, improves its resilience and contributes to economic growth while reducing any environmental impact.

The solar power plant with its 186 panels and 100 kW capacity both fully covers the enterprise needs and benefits the Shubar village residents

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Mukhit Baigarayev

The installation of a solar power plant in Bakhtiyar's enterprise was made possible by a joint UNDP and Government of Kazakhstan initiative, with financial support from the Global Environment Facility. As part of this initiative, special financial support programmes were developed for Kazakhstani entrepreneurs interested in implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. These programmes have had a significant impact: 58 small and medium enterprises received financing totalling 3,9 billion tenge, providing over 36,000 people access to more efficient and cleaner energy sources.

Bakhtiyar's enterprise currently employs 14 people, but is planning a business expansion, the installation of another solar power plant and the creation of additional jobs. "To instal the solar power plant, we took out a loan with the UNDP financial support programme which covers 25 percent of the principal debt. Now we want to drill more wells and install pumps, for which we need more electricity so we are planning to install another, larger solar power plant," says the entrepreneur.


Bakhtiyar is continuing to pursue his journey as an eco-conscious entrepreneur. He is an inspiration to the local community as he treads on the path to sustainable development. Through his business model, he demonstrates how effective use of renewable energy sources and green technologies can contribute to economic prosperity, environmental protection and the creation of new jobs. Developing small and medium enterprises in the regions of Kazakhstan, supporting local entrepreneurs in their quest for innovation, improving the quality of life in the regions and providing opportunities for the introduction of green technologies – all these elements are the key to a sustainable future in which the economy and ecology coexist and ensure a common prosperity.