Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2024

World Food Day

Almas Tasbytyrov

“Without modern knowledge in the agricultural sector, you will not achieve success.”


Like in all countries in Central Asia, climate change has diminished the productivity of farmland and pasture in Kazakhstan, where Almas Tasbytyrov runs a cattle-breeding farm on 500 hectares near Almaty.

The young farmer rents the land, which is a mix of pasture for grazing and arable land where he grows fodder crops for his animals. Almas started his agribusiness after university, where he studied economics of agronomy to be well prepared.

I studied for five years and constantly use the knowledge I gained on my farm,” he says.

But while this knowledge has served him well over the years, changing climate conditions and population pressures require farmers like Almas to learn new skills to adapt in ways that protect the environment and their business.

In the last half century, the population of Central Asia has tripled, which is putting significant pressure on water resources and food security. Climate change, meanwhile, is adding pressure by increasing droughts and desertification and causing soils to retain more salt.

Irrigation water for fields and pastures is often short in Almas’ part of Kazakhstan, which means less food for his animals.

Always eager to find solutions, Almas connected with FAO and the Global Environmental Facility to learn more about plants that do not require much water and can grow even in salt-affected soil, while still producing plenty of fodder for his cows.  

After fist attending an educational field day, Almas in 2021 received five tons of seeds of various drought-resistant forage crops, including Sudanese grass, sugar sorghum, sainfoin, mogar, alfalfa, wheatgrass, oats and barley.

"Despite the fact that that year was extremely unfavourable both for pastures and for all agriculture, I managed to get very good results from new crops,” Almas recalls.

He also received advice in how to manage his pastures and fields, so they get used fully without negatively affecting local ecologies. This addresses the fact that lands in the region are not always managed well and sometimes overgrazed, which can lead to more soil degradation, poor water retention, and loss of biodiversity.

To Almas, managing his natural resources in a climate smart way is another tool in his toolbox. “Without modern knowledge in the agricultural sector, you will not achieve success,” he stresses.