FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan looks to expand and diversify its agrifood exports

If Kyrgyzstan expanded and diversified its agricultural exports, agricultural trade would be more efficient and inclusive, contribute to better livelihoods for rural people, and foster the country’s social and economic development.

This summarizes the message of Thomas Shipton, FAO chief technical advisor in the Kyrgyz Republic, as he addressed a workshop on agricultural export promotion last week in Bishkek. The workshop – held 18-19 October – was organized jointly by FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Melioration, and the Ministry of the Economy. It was part of FAO’s Regional Initiative on Improving Agricultural Trade and Market Integration.

The goal of the workshop was to give a boost to the agricultural and food elements of Kyrgyzstan’s Export Development Plan for 2015-17, adopted in March last year.

More than 70 individuals participated, representing the public and private sectors, academia, and international organizations in Kyrgyzstan. Experts also came from abroad: Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the European Union Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic.

Topics explored included competitiveness of agrifood products, diversification of exports for different products and markets, agricultural finance and investments, utilization of trade agreements and unilateral preferences and instruments, and institutional arrangements for trade promotion.

In their discussions, participants identified several key areas for bolstering exports:

  • stronger sanitary and phytosanitary systems and certification in Kyrgyzstan
  • better access to trade information for all value chain participants
  • improved trade logistics that correspond to the needs of local producers and exporters.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture Janybek Kerimaliev said that the national government was working to promote exports by simplifying export procedures and updating national legislation. Much remains to be done, he added, such as promoting Kyrgyz products abroad, and improving capacity for compliance with veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

FAO economist Iryna Kobuta stressed that farmers and exporters needed better access to crucial information on trade regulation and markets. Online trading portals could be established to facilitate exchange of agrifood products, she said, and intergovernmental coordination and public-private dialogue on trade could be strengthened.

A recurring theme in the discussions was the need for improved knowledge and skills among value chain participants and public sector representatives. Anvar Nasritdinov of the International Finance Corporation office in Bishkek said that improving producers’ knowledge of quality standards for feed and the feeding process in milk production could drastically lower production costs and improve competitiveness. Kanat Tilekeyev, senior research fellow at the University of Central Asia in Bishkek, suggested that improving farmers’ capacity to plan the production process could lead to lower lamb meat production costs.

“Our discussion shows that to be efficient, the approach to export promotion needs to be comprehensive and target improvements along the entire supply chain, and not just focus on the exports itself,” said Ekaterina Krivonos, economist with FAO’s Trade and Markets Division. “Competitive agricultural exports start with competitive value chains.”

26 October 2016, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan