Development Issues in the Traditional Livestock Sector of the Kyrgyz Republic

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Case Study #7-13 of the Program: ''Food Policy For Developing Countries: The Role Of Government In The Global Food System''


The Kyrgyz Republic is a country in Central Asia with an area of 199.9 square kilometers and a population of 6 million. More than three-quarters of the territory is covered by mountains. The share of agriculture in GDP is 14.7 percent. Livestock production is one of the leading sectors of Kyrgyz agriculture. The share of livestock products in the total volume of agricultural gross output was 47.6 percent in 2014 [1]. As a result of historical, cultural, and geographical factors, for centuries Kyrgyz farmers practiced a nomadic type of livestock farming with three kinds of pastures: near-village pastures (usually used during the winter and located close to the villages in the valleys), intensively used pastures (used during spring and autumn, located at the foot of the mountains), and nomadic or distant pastures (for summer grazing in the highlands). The Kyrgyz Republic is a mountainous country with a rather fragile natural environment. Nomadic livestock production is one of the few options available for reclaiming desert and mountain landscapes. The stability of this interaction depends on many factors: the traditions of livestock farming, public policy, government development strategies and livestock legislation, market conditions and access to information, the institutional environment, and the effects of climate change, among others [2]. At present, the grazing situation varies for different livestock owners. There are nomads who drive their herds to summer pastures (nomadic type), and there are small farmers (who make up the bulk of the country's farmers) who use only near-village pastures all year round for various reasons. This imbalance causes pasture degradation that has a direct impact on livestock nutrition. The other stakeholder groups are state authorities of the Kyrgyz Republic; organizations representing the interests of farmers; donors and organizations with interests in the region and in neighboring states. All of these stakeholders have different interests, mechanisms, and power for changing the situation. The pressure from intense grazing, especially in near-village pastures, is several times higher than recommended. This naturally leads to lower productivity–since 1990 the productivity of near-village pastures decreased threefold, from 300 to 100 kilograms per hectare [3]. On the other hand, remote pastures are often degraded because of lack of use (for example, they become overgrown with weeds, which are not suitable for feeding cattle). Access to distant pastures is limited because of problems with the infrastructure, financial difficulties, legal restrictions, and so on. This study is devoted to the analysis of possible changes that could be made at the local and national level to improve Kyrgyz nomad livestock farming. Policy recommendations–such as integrating databases that monitor pasture conditions; broadening the pasture committees so that they include all groups of pasture users; supporting farmers who have a small number of cattle; investigating the experience of neighboring countries; and reconstructing infrastructure–are suggested.

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15 pp.

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Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences

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Ivan Nefedjev, Aida Bolotbekova (2016). Case Study #7-13, ''Development Issues in the Traditional Livestock Sector of the Kyrgyz Republic''. In: Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Fuzhi Cheng (editors), ''Food Policy for Developing Countries: Case Studies.''15 pp.

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