The tectonics of world trade has been changing for some time now. Whereas until ten years ago, North America and Western Europe had dominated international trade in the agriculture sector, the emerging economies have now entered the emporium as new actors. As the world population grows and more and more meat is consumed, a new round is now starting in agricultural production.
Kazakhstan and China are intensifying their cattle and pig production and are increasingly seeking to supply neighbouring countries as well as their own domestic markets with produce. The Kazakh beef producers and the German-Sino Cooperation Project on Animal Breeding and Husbandry in China gave accounts of their plans at the DLG EuroTier 2018 trade fair, which was held in Hannover/Germany in November.
Kazakhstan is the world’s ninth largest country and has sufficient water and pastureland for the production of beef and mutton. Currently, a total of 1.5 million hectares of land was under irrigation, Meat Union of Kazakhstan Chairman Maksut Baktibayev explained in Hanover. The beef industry was one of the country’s most important agricultural sectors, and each year, it exported meat worth 2.6 million US dollars.
However, as Baktibayev stressed, putting things into perspective, a mere five kilos of beef per hectare was produced in Kazakhstan, compared to Brazilian farmers’ roughly 25 kg/ha. There were about ten major meat processing companies in Kazakhstan, and they could produce a multiple of beef for exports to the neighbouring countries in Central Asia and even China. This was also what the Kazakh government had in mind, Baktibayev said.
In the north of the country, farmers were provided with 1,000 hectares of land and 100 head of cows as “pump-priming capital”, Baktibayev explained. Kazakhstan had opted for private farming and had no intention of implementing these structures according to the former socialist model. Seven million people were living in rural areas, and half of them were unemployed. With the new model, they would be able to repay government and foreign bank investments within ten years’ time. The plan conceived this year was for the beef model to create a new generation of animal producers.
Over the next three years, first of all, the existing livestock keepers were to be given advice and training, noted Baktibayev in Hanover. New markets would be tapped. Then, up to 2024, labour productivity would be increased, and between 2025 and 2027, the “Beef from Kazakhstan” trademark would be created. Since the country did not have a sufficiently large herd yet, the demand for dairy cows would be rising by an annual 200,000 up to 2020.
After 40 years of political reforms, China has become the world’s largest animal and animal feed producer. The problem is that there are still 92 million livestock keepers who not only work inefficiently in small farms but also contribute to major environmental problems through nutrient discharge and greenhouse gas emissions.
In June 2018, the second phase of the German-Sino Cooperation Project on Animal Breeding and Husbandry in China was started. According to Ulrich Kleinwechter of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, it is to result in more resource efficiency in animal feed, livestock keeping and water use.
In the first phase, the projects gave proof of being implementable, and the next target will be networking and disseminating the positive examples across the board. Kleinwechter stressed at EuroTier that the demand for meat was enormous in China. The country’s growing population was eating 230 million kilos of meat, 80 million kilos of eggs and 100 million kilos of milk a day. With 689 million pigs that accounted for around 60 per cent of meat consumption, pig farming dominated production.
But this was still not enough. China was still importing 3.9 million tons of meat each year. Zhenhai Yang of the Chinese National Animal Husbandry Service (NAHS) reported that private livestock keeping had developed rapidly since the beginning of the reforms, and at EuroTier in Hanover, he presented the country’s Green Development Policy. Since 2000, a framework had been under development for livestock keeping, and only recently, subsidies had been provided for the modernisation of animal production.
A law on the protection of pastureland had already been in force since 2002. At the same time, a set of regulations on combating animal epidemics had been introduced. On the 31st May, laws on the protection of the environment from emissions from major livestock farms had entered into force.
According to Zhenhai Yang, China seeks to have disseminated the results from pilot farms across the board by 2020. The focus here was on a proper use of animal waste from pig and poultry keeping. Dung and slurry should not only be applied as organic fertiliser but should also gain added value via biogas plants. Their digestate flowed back into the nutrient cycle for horticulture, as well. Currently, however, just 64 per cent of the excrements was being used for this purpose, Zhenai Yang noted.
This was why pig production was to be shifted increasingly from the polluted areas in the South to the North and was also to be expanded. Conversely, poultry production was to be moved into the South, closer to the major conurbations. Whereas smallholders are still keeping sows and animals for fattening, Zhenhai Yang maintains that the future lies in specialising pork production, with separate breeders, piglet producers and fatteners. He is confident that digitisation will support resource efficiency.
Roland Krieg, Journalist, Berlin/Germany