Organic farming is not just a trend, it's the future of agriculture

September 11, 2023
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan
"The problem of the use of chemicals in agriculture is serious and requires attention. The consequences of pesticide use may already affect our children and later future generations,"
explains Vadim Lopukhin, president of the Association of Organic Agriculture in Kazakhstan.

In a world where environmental problems are becoming increasingly acute and health concerns are coming to the fore, organic farming is no longer just a trend. It is now the indispensable future of agriculture.

Organic farming is not just a production method, but a philosophy of sustainability that minimizes the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and growth regulators, relying instead on natural processes. This approach is not only about growing food, but also about actively engaging with nature, focusing on biodiversity conservation and environmental sustainability.

In Kazakhstan, organic farming has enormous development potential that has not yet been fully exploited. So far, the area of fields cultivated according to organic production technologies and certified by European certification organisations amounts to more than 200,000 ha. The development and introduction of more efficient technologies for growing food crops, stimulation of investments in this field, education and capacity building of agricultural workers and other measures can contribute to the development of organic agriculture in Kazakhstan and increase its share in agricultural exports.

"In 2022, Kazakhstan exported $35 million worth of organic products. Kazakhstan's main export items are wheat, linseed, and soybeans. According to FiBL and IFOAM assessments, Kazakhstan ranks 9th among 123 countries in exports of organic products, 4th in exports of organic wheat and 6th in organic oilseeds flax exports. The products are mainly exported to the countries of the European Union,"
said Bauyrzhan Akhmetayev, Deputy Director of the Department of Agro-industrial Complex and Food Industry of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of the Republic of Kazakhstan "Atameken" (NPP "Atameken").

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan is carrying out systematic work on the development of organic agriculture in Kazakhstan. With UNDP support and in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the necessary legal and regulatory frameworks have been developed and various financial mechanisms have been adopted to stimulate the development of organic agriculture. In addition, UNDP supported the pilot certification of certain commodities in the agricultural sector.

Certification is an important element for the development of organic agriculture as it strengthens trust between producers and consumers. The label guarantees that the product meets the high standards of organic farming.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, there are 38 farms certified for organic farming in Kazakhstan today.

In 2015, Kazakhstan adopted the Law "On the Production and Turnover of Organic Products", which establishes the legal, economic, social, and organizational framework for the production of organic products in order to ensure the rational use of land, promote healthy nutrition and protect the environment. Rules for subsidizing certification costs were also adopted and standards for organic products, including a mark of conformity, were put into effect. In addition, the roadmap for the development of organic agriculture for 2022-2023 is being implemented.

The introduction of new regulations, standards, and financial support accelerates the transition to more sustainable farming practices. The Government of Kazakhstan continues to move forward with the development of new laws and innovations to ensure that organic farming becomes a truly important part of the national agricultural system.

"Currently, the Organic Farming Development Roadmap for 2024-2026 is being prepared and work is underway to update the national standards. In addition, members of the Senate of the Parliament have launched a new version of the law "On the production and turnover of organic products". The main innovation of the bill is that only the process of organic production will be subject to certification. In addition, the new draft law provides for group certification for small farms. It is expected that the amendment plan will also combine the certification requirements in one document and provide for other innovations,"
Bauyrzhan Akhmetayev adds.

While conventional agriculture remains attractive from an economic point of view, we cannot ignore the problems it poses for our ecosystem and public health. Organic farming is the way to balance nature and production. And while this road may be long, it is clear to all that the direction is the right one and worth the effort.

For reference:

Organic agriculture development is on the agenda of BesNET - the  Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The platform was founded in 2012 at the initiative of various countries. Today, it brings together around 140 countries around the world. The aim of the platform is to create a kind of knowledge platform that helps governments around the world to take long-term measures to protect biodiversity and use ecosystem services sustainably. Bes-NET, through the BES Solutions Fund, is supporting Kazakhstan to scale up and implement the results of the IPBES assessments and the key priorities identified during the Regional Trialogue for Central Asia in Almaty in October 2019.