More sun, more money

If earlier Ukraine was a major supplier of agricultural products to Russia, perhaps now this place is occupied by Kazakhstan.

In addition to the traditional fears and concerns about weather “surprises” this year, new and unexpected concerns have been added regarding foreign policy events. Farmers are concerned about relations between Russia and Ukraine, and all kinds of sanctions will affect the demand for agricultural products. We are talking about this and many other things with the Executive Director of the Foundation for Local Communities in the Inbekchikazakh Region, Bakigul Elshibaeva.

Bakigul El Chebaeva.

Bakigul El Chebaeva.

“Yes, this spring is strikingly different from the previous one,” says Bakigul Kazybaevna. “If over the years we have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and gained practical experience in the optimal amount of sowing and sales, then there are approximate calculations of prices, this time farmers faced a new challenge. Now it is completely unknown how the domestic and foreign markets will react to the political situation, sanctions, etc. If earlier Ukraine was a major supplier of agricultural products to Russia, then perhaps this place is occupied by Kazakhstan.Or perhaps the influx of cheaper products from neighboring countries (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, etc.) will pass through our country, and then our goods will not be in demand.Some farmers on Willingness to risk and increase the area planted with crops. And someone is careful and plans to wait, watching the development of events. At the same time, many farmers realize that the approaches to farming need to change anyway, because in such a situation in the world, every country needs to think about its security Sometimes bad attitudes motivate the entrepreneur to become more stable, more stable, and realize the benefit he will get from the fact that increased demand for domestic products possible in the domestic and foreign markets.

What changes in the management of the economy are there now?

The Foundation for Local Communities in the Inbekshekazakh Region (FMS) has been helping to solve important social problems in the region for 15 years. For example, the Rural Development program covers the unemployed, the low-income, the self-employed and the youth for training and retraining in efficient agriculture in the horticultural sector. We also help open and develop small business forms in the countryside.

Many villagers were trained in the agribusiness center, where seminars and courses on agricultural techniques for growing vegetables, farm marketing, computer literacy courses, and accounting courses for beginners are held regularly and for free. For example, we are currently running a project where we are talking about new technologies to save energy. For clarity, alternative energy sources have been installed that have been actively used by the Federal Migration Service for several years, these are solar panels and a solar collector, a biogas plant.

– That is, Kazakh farmers use the principles of green economy in their agriculture?

– Our farmers use drip irrigation system, grow products in protected lands, tiered planting, high tunnel membrane greenhouses, etc. for a long time. All this also contributes to respect for nature and energy saving. For example, film greenhouses are a great way to make the best use of solar energy, heating the air inside the greenhouse and keeping the heat indoors for a long time, giving vegetables a chance to grow better. The drip irrigation system is also one example of green technologies, when water is used optimally and with caution.

Such principles have already been introduced with the support of the Federal Migration Service on 21 farms in the province of Enbekshikaza. However, the most recent example of teaching smallholder farms to respect the environment, save energy, and use renewable energy sources is our new project Actions Louder than a Thousand Words. Its main goal is to popularize the introduction and use of renewable energy sources (RES) among representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises, peasant farms. So, residents of our region got acquainted with the chief researcher of KazNU Ruslan Utebaev. As part of the ongoing project, he conducted a number of studies that talk about the energy potential of the Enbekshikazakh region and the needs of farmers in energy use. Raslan not only shared his knowledge in the field of renewable energy, but also helped find ways to meet the needs of their use.

The name of the project itself indicates that we have chosen the path of promoting renewable energy principles in practice. We want to show in practice that a good example is also contagious and works on the principle of word of mouth without any additional advertising. The project started in September last year. Within the framework of this project, the Green Farm Grant Competition was announced. At first, we collected applications to participate in the project, visit farms, study farmers’ problems and needs. Then we made a map of the potential resources and energy sources available in our area in order to better understand what kind of natural energy the villagers have access to and what the difficulties are in developing it. Moreover, we have established a partnership with the Kazakh National University on the basis of its own technopark. During the winter, researchers sold training seminars on the basics of using renewable energy. After the training, we announced a competition to write projects on the use of renewable energy sources. Just last week, we announced four winners who will receive a grant to implement their projects.

– How many applications did potential participants submit and which projects were ultimately selected?

– Initially, we received about 60 applications to participate in the project, based on the developed criteria, 25 people were selected for training. Of these, 13 people applied for a grant after the results of the workshops, and four won a grant. A prerequisite for the competition was the co-financing of the project, that is, the participants also invest their own money in a business idea. For example, two of the winners decided to install solar panels on a base where there was no infrastructure, lighting, or communications. They realize that it is more profitable to use solar energy than to operate the entire infrastructure. Another winner is involved in poultry farming. Chickens need green food all year round. Then they rush better, give more eggs. And in order to grow green fodder all year round, he wants to comprehensively utilize natural energy using a greenhouse, solar panels and a biogas plant.

Another winner of the competition collects milk from local farmers and delivers it to a large dairy. The company provided her with equipment for cooling the milk so that it does not spoil until the required volume has accumulated. However, the coolant in this mode works almost around the clock and leads to high electricity bills. Thanks to the calculations, the participant realized that it would be profitable for her to install a solar battery. This project can be called a social enterprise, because it benefits not only the winner, but also a large number of small farms, factory and buyers directly.

Now the ABC helps the winners of the “Green Farm” competition find reliable suppliers. We visited four companies for selling and installing solar panels, then the winners will choose a suitable supplier in terms of quality and cost by the method of analysis. Thus, our project will show with illustrative examples how to save money spent on coal, gas, electricity and the use of alternative energy sources. The winners will share their results and personal experiences in approximately six months.

Why does the project specifically target farmers and individual entrepreneurs?

In fact, agriculture is a fairly large sector of the economy. Farmers are a group of people who provide food to all the inhabitants of the country. We will not speak out loud, but they are the basis of the agricultural economy of Kazakhstan. However, they require a lot of resources to maintain their business, and the introduction of alternative energy sources on farms will provide an opportunity to save their money and improve the environment in the area. Therefore, it is very important that they use innovations that will help preserve the environment and improve the economy.

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