His Excellency Zhanibek Salimovich Karibzhanov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan
I am sincerely glad to welcome all the participants at such a representative forum and to express my gratitude to the organizers of this meeting for this opportunity to address you. Let me convey the greetings of the President of our State, Mr. Nursultan Nazarbaev and his wishes for the successful outcome of the Summit.
The Republic of Kazakhstan, after gaining its Independence, has been deliberately elaborating a policy of nutrition and its full of intention of solving the problem of food supply and secure food in the future.
Kazakhstan, as a sovereign state, has great potential to trade food-stuffs with other countries and remains a big exporter of agriculture products in the Euroasian continent.
At the present time, the agrarian sector produces 20 percent of the national income and 15 percent of GDP. Seven million seven hundred thousand people, or 44 percent of the whole population, live in the rural areas. The country can now meet its internal needs, and can export 5 to 8 million tons of grain, 250 000 to 300 000 tons of meat, as well as cotton, wool, leather and other products.
Nevertheless, the potential of our agricultural sector is much bigger than that. The weak material-technical base inherited from the former Soviet Union and difficulties associated with the period of transition towards a market economy have not allowed us to increase our agricultural production. However, our potential is enormous. It isn't quite enough to say that each citizen theoretically possesses 2.5 hectares of fertile soil. To exploit this huge potential for increasing crop capacity and productivity we need appropriate investments and new technologies.
To attract investment, Kazakhstan is ready, within the framework of its economic reform, to allocate land and to establish joint ventures. The legal basis for doing this has already been made in Kazakhstan. There exists a good climate for direct investment.
The huge industrial potential of the agricultural system aside, there are lots of problems associated with the nutritional needs of the population which are the consequence of social-economic difficulties characteristic of a transitional period towards a market economy.
With regard to the health and social importance of solving the problems of nutrition, the Inter-ministerial Republic Council on the problems of nutrition under the Government of Kazakhstan has been set up. Within the framework of its activities, this Council is currently working on the development of a National Nutrition Policy. At this stage of elaboration of this policy; and with the technical assistance of UNDP, WHO and UNICEF, for the first time, large-scale surveys of the nutritional status of the population are being carried out to be used in a database. Maintaining control over the quality and security of food products and food-stuffs is the mainstay and the core point of the National Nutrition Policy of Kazakhstan.
At present, the legal basis, in the form of a law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on "Quality and Security of Food Products and Food-Stuffs" is being worked on and is in the process of intensive development within the State system of control. We are also looking at material, technical and methodologies of supply.
A definitive solution to the abovementioned critical problem of nutrition is, however, impossible without learning from international experiences in this area and with close international cooperation, consultative and technical assistance from reputable organizations.
In this regard, the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, has taken a decision to join the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and thus, the Republic assumes all the obligations connected with membership in this respected Organization.
Realizing the acuteness of the global problem of hunger and malnutrition on the eve of the new millennium, Kazakhstan has, from the very beginning, supported the idea of holding such a Summit. And even if in Kazakhstan there is not a problem of hunger, still any measures taken to eradicate such a disgraceful social phenomenon will find understanding and support in the people and from the Government of the Republic. We are ready to make a substantial contribution to the solution of the problem of food provision in the world.