Tackling the vagaries of climate change – UNDP extends helping hand to local farmers

December 8, 2022
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

Climate change has had disastrous consequences for the nature and ecosystems of Kazakhstan. Agriculture and the communities that live off the income are the most severely affected. Small producers are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) research shows that by 2050, Kazakhstan will lose 20-49 percent of its wheat yield due to climate change, and pastures will lose 15.2 percent of their livestock capacity. As a result, people working in agriculture may lose income, increasing the gap between urban and rural households. This social factor will exacerbate climate migration from affected areas to relatively prosperous regions, potentially laying the groundwork for social tensions.

UNDP in Kazakhstan, jointly with its partners, implements projects for sustainable agricultural development in the context of climate change to support businesses in rural areas and to ensure food security.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Sali Sabirov
Agritourism as an alternative income for rural residents in a changing climate

Agritourism, also known as rural tourism, is an industry sector that focuses on the careful use of rural areas’ natural, cultural, historical and other resources, as well as its features, to create a comprehensive tourist product and to raise environmental awareness of the local population and visitors. Given the growing interest in the country's domestic tourism, this type of tourism has all the possible conditions for development in Kazakhstan. More broadly, it is a type of economic activity that creates the conditions for new funds to circulate in the rural economy.

Phase 1 of Research and Practical Application of Agri and Rural Tourism to Adapt Rural Residents to Climate Change was conducted in 2020 as part of UNDP cooperation with the Kazakhstan Association of Agri and Rural Tourism (KAART). The main approaches to the development of agritourism and the most interesting areas for rural residents were identified in the Akmola region, with the support of UNDP and the Ministry of Ecology, Geology, and Natural Resources of the RoK.

In 2022, Phase II included mobile training seminars in East Kazakhstan, Kostanay, North Kazakhstan and Akmola regions. In total, more than 100 farmers took part in the seminars.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Sali Sabirov
"Agritourism provides an opportunity to discover the full potential of rural areas by visiting natural and historical landmarks, witnessing traditions and everyday life, relishing its gastronomy and admiring the craftsmanship and creativity. In the near future, these tours are expected to be favoured by an increasing number of urban residents. Our task is to teach rural residents the proper organizational approach in this industry, which will result in an additional source of income and in rural development with the preservation of the ecosystem and nature itself”,
said Khalida Tulegenova, President of KAART.

For example, Dmitry Budkeyev from Korobikha village, Katon-Karagai district, East Kazakhstan region, one of the seminar participants, feels the impact of climate change on his business all too well. Dmitry is the owner of a bee apiary.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Khalida Tulegenova
"There is a 'decoupling' between the life cycle of bees and blooms because of climate change. The blooming period is shorter and shorter, it comes and goes less intensively",
notes Dmitry Budkeyev.

Dmitry is visually impaired of the second group. To increase his income, he accommodates guests on his household property. Dmitry has high hopes for agritourism development.

"There is a lodge, a bathhouse, and a boat for guests here. I accompany tourists on several routes. I also provide a variety of wellness procedures, which I intend to expand. I would like to build more guest rooms so I can host tourists year-round and a bridge across the river because my house is on the other side and tourists can find it difficult to cross over,"
said the beekeeper.
Promoting climate smart agro-technologies in Kazakhstan

The UNDP initiative to promote climate-smart agro-technologies, funded by the Government of Japan, is working with farmers in selected regions of Kazakhstan to increase the resilience of farms to climate change through the introduction of climate-smart agro-technologies. It is expected to contribute to a reduction in the environmental load, in addition to increasing productivity. There are plans to demonstrate new technologies in renewable energy, water digitalization and proper drought management, initiatives that can be implemented on most farms.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

In fact, this autumn, UNDP representatives and the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs visited Kazakhstan’s regions to investigate farms interested in participating in the project.

The team visited 15 dairy farms, beef cattle and horse farms, vegetable farms, herb farms, fish farms, and multipurpose farms.

"Farmers say they would like to implement 'green' technology on their farms, but it is still quite expensive. That is why the Project seeks to provide significant support in this area. In particular, water-saving units and solar panels will be installed on selected farms. The Commission has yet to select pilot farms as per the selection criteria. Upon the Project completion, these farms can become a demonstration site for the exchange of experience with neighbouring farms",
said Saulet Sakenov, Project Manager.
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Kuanysh Kozhabekov

The UNDP Climate Promise is the largest global climate and development proposal to support countries in meeting their national commitments under the Paris Agreement. In Kazakhstan, this initiative supports the Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources in promoting the climate agenda, creating a legal framework for a national system of GHG emissions inventory; conducting trainings on GHG emissions inventory for experts, including from commercial enterprises; developing a road map for the implementation of NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) adaptation-related components and awareness-raising activities on climate change.

Kazakhstan is currently working on a Carbon Neutrality Strategy until 2060. The key measures are to phase out the burning of coal; to significantly increase the use of renewable energy in electricity generation; to expand carbon use and storage technologies; to use hydrogen; to  increase energy efficiency; to implement a two billion tree-planting programme; and to expand organic farming, sustainable livestock production and water resource management.