01.12.2009

A sad story of villages

By Sergey ABAKSHIN

Rural areas have the desire to work except but no possibilities to it.

Economical reforms, which were thought out by our country’s government to move forward, threw away agricultural sector and rural communities for many years backwards. The reference is about those changes, which begun after Soviet Union disintegration and which are still going nowadays. The crisis added its own corrections into this, on top of that, chaotic and unsystematic process, and as soon as today many our villages and auls (Kazakh – small village primarily engaged in cattle-breeding) are virtually been put on the line of extinction, desolation and anarchy. In these situations rural people are forced to find new methods of survival and to advance the older ones.

2009 12 01The new community phenomenon

Sadly, we quite recently realized the necessity of normal functioning of agricultural sector in our country. Special governmental programs to support villages were, as it becomes obvious today, not one of the most important directions of modernizing economical system, but unsorted events which were dictated the necessity to somehow balance different directions in economy. And it is been done with availability of huge amounts of spare finance in the budget. As the result, when hard days of the crisis came, the programs of villages support were curtailed in the first stance, and rural people again found themselves thrown upon their own resources. Aside from that, when cities’ needs in labor have decreased, and villages approved its incapacity in terms of labor-creation, the level of desolateness of our agricultural sector become clear.

However, many rural people weren’t despaired and in essence didn’t felt the crisis influence upon them. As they stating themselves, they have crisis for the last twenty years, thus no global financial recessions are frightening them. From the other side, this is bad – in essence, those villages and townships, which habitants can provide themselves with food, are virtually living on their own, in isolation from the rest of the country. And there are very few of such auls. The others are either died or going to.

It is interesting that even after socialistic system fall (which gave, inclusive of Kazakhstani agricultural sector, the phenomenon of soviet style of organization – Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes), it wasn’t essentially a catastrophe for the villages. Despite the fact that overall majority of collective farms have financial support from centers, our villages were ruined not by the lack of state financing but by banal stealage and barbarity. For instance, many villages and townships showed by their own examples, that weakening, and more over that, closing of Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes activities in many regions pushed rural people to self-organization. As a matter of fact, this process theoretically could become massive, if the state would have been made an arbitrary decision and thus could have keep at least a part of agricultural sector in relative sustainability. In due times, people of such villages were cooperated quite successfully and actually reincarnated Kolkhozes, except without bounding it to “center”.

Everybody now has their own fields, but, for instance, fodder fields are tilled together; remains of agricultural machines after Soviet Union disintegration were also collected and repaired altogether. In other words, those fields and machines are belonging to each one. Then, people are harvesting crops together on each modern Kolkhoz member’s piece of land. Generally, small farms in grain-growing regions of the country or, for instance, cattle breeders in Semirechie, where there are no problems with pastries and where lands weren’t taken into private property, are surviving in such collective manner. And all things there now are completely depending on who was actually at the helm in period of distribution of the land pie.

The thing is that right after the Soviet Union disintegration, and then after scandalous acceptance of Land Code in 2002, in many villages and townships all usable areas under crops and pastries have entered private property of people close to local administrations, who were buying excellent lands by hundreds of hectares for nothing. It appeared that in due time all people could have been given a piece of cultivated land around their habitation in amount of few hundreds of hectares. But most of rural people knew nothing about such claims; now they don’t need to since all lands were already claimed. All documents were taken out by local latifundists and villagers were given nothing. A picture that we used to, witnessed many times. And only few faithful local governors gave lands to the people, who have legal rights on it.

Piggy bank

And this is already a massive problem. Fundamentally, as rural working people are inclined to think, to raise a specific village is possible with competent management and reasonable help from the state.

Deputies and social activists are shouting from each ones corner – some of them are trumpeting that everything is fine and beautiful in both rural areas and cities; others are opposite, singing a requiem, operating with generally accepted definitions and stereotypes about rural life. But both sides are wrong, because all their arguments are falling to dust without actual understanding of situation in modern aul.

For example, the most widespread myth – high prices on crops, which allegedly can’t allow to be engaged in cattle breeding. Being involved in cattle breeding, as in any other business, you need the initial capital to buy young animal and feed for them, one way or another. Hardly that any villager is seriously thinking about hitting a jackpot on meat sale in the end. Private farms are not supposed to have its own vast feeding base, but without it there is no business to talk about. More like animals in this case could be described as piggy banks of some sorts. To put it simply, by feeding a pair of bulls or around five pigs for instance, you put up in it as much, as you could get on finish.

Farmers themselves are stating that in this case it is much more profitable to buy expensive feeds (crops, corn, or barley) then cheap ones, to which off-corn can be referred. Firstly, an animal which is fed by nutritional crops, is eating less in terms of volume, grows more quickly and gives finer meat. Nevertheless, there’s still no profit from it.

And this will continue till that very moment, when a farm will became larger, until you will cultivate your own land, growing lion’s share of feeding stuff for your number of heads. That is manageable only by working collectively.

Principally, for that reason there is no huge help required from the state. Many people nowadays are ready to work in agricultural sector, which busts the second myth – the myth that youth don’t want to stay in villages. Our own research shows – they are indeed want to, but the state should create at least minimal conditions for it – access to cheap credits and taxation moratorium for the returning period. And of course – fields to seed crops are required. That is the moment, when the state should show its will to accept and repair mistakes of the past, by: confiscation private property lands, bought for nothing in due time or either buying it out by prescribed price. If to say objectively, sometimes akims (heads of local administrations) were outraging by the quiet, exploiting the situation of distribution of the best lands in the cities and suburbs.

If we could implement these minimum conditions, villages would get a realistic perspective. Thus, we could kill two birds with one stone – by giving help to small and medium businesses and to raise agricultural sector in the same time. However, seems that it is easier to put specific auls on addiction to subsidies and to wrap it until inviting perfection.

Milk rivers are clabbering.

The situation in crop –growing regions of the country deserves a particular review. There, despite the country’s aim to grow wheat, the situation is hardly better than with any of local private farms in other regions of Kazakhstan. We will talk about it in closest time. Now it is wanted to recall those, who are usually referred as “self-engaged” in our country. In other words, the thing is about unemployed village habitant, who is feeding from his kitchen garden, private farm and his own thrift. Great cattle give good enough income; or gave, to be precise. By owning five cows, you could get up to 50 liters of milk. Accepting price nowadays is about 60 tenge per liter – its 3000 tenge per day. Very good money for a villager, especially taking the fact that great cattle feeds itself on wild fields for 9 months over a year (and for full year in southern regions). However, the situation with acceptors (intermediaries) today is somehow become complicated. In period of the crisis milk factories and other milk-processing companies prefer to work with milk powder rather than with fresh milk, since first one is cheaper. Because of that reason, many people are simply couldn’t sell milk; at least, they don’t do it regularly. In fact, in the winter time cows give less milk or no milk at all.

Cattle stealer

During crisis times, in addition to other miseries of rural people, the new-old barymta reappeared (means horse-stealing, which was popular in nomadic times). Cruel times – cruel people. Cattle reived from pastries rustled from farms and butchered barely near villages. In some villages close to Almaty reive of great cattle and horses happens virtually every week. The amount of stolen sheep is not even counted. There are rumors that handy professionals are stealing cattle nearly on customer’s orders. Customer point out measurements of horse or cow, and stealers are reiving many on their choice to prevent customer’s declining. In late autumn and early winter, when Kazakhs are usually butcher cattle for Sogym (meat supply for winter month), cases of cattle stealage are sharply increasing. Besides, quite soon, as serious cold spell begin, hunger will drive wolves to settlements, which population couldn’t be controlled by local authorities. And then cattle-breeders would have double pressure – both from two-foot predators and from grey ones.

11 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Very good readding. Gives complete observation of what happening in your rural areas. Can i as what aprt of people are living in rural areas in your country?

  2. Anonymous

    Совсем чой то мальчонка загрустил

  3. Eric

    About 64% of Kazakhs are living below poverty line, that's one US dollar per day for one person. Most of that people are not paying taxes, and it's one of the reasons why they are considered as poor. But as you read from the article, they are just not counted and living by dint of their own unregistered small farms.

  4. Я

    Очень неплохая статья, внятная и артикулированная, но конец завален. Ты, Юр... Абакшин, начинаешь за здравие а кончаешь вхолостую. Умей делать выводы. Это дружеский совет. Далеко не первый раз замечаю за тобой такое. Талант есть, идея есть — а до конца дело доводить слабо?

    С уважением.

  5. Scoobie

    So there is nothing to do in Kazakhstan............? Prey tell what experience you are basing that comment on........? Apart from hundreds of western bars including many Irish bars, a ski resort, highest outdoor skating rink, heli-skiing, a world class (half) golf course, pool/snooker halls, Ten pin bowling alleys, Go karting, hundreds of nightclubs, over 300 casinos, many cinemas, lots of outdoor swimming pools, a man made 22 mile long lake where you can go sailing and more pretty girls than you can ever imagine... There is a lot to do in Kazakhstan.

    As for people not having the money to feed themselves.......? Again your knowledge of Kazakhstan is flawed somewhat, there are more Rolls, Merc S class, BMWs, Lexus, Porsches etc in the city of Almaty than in london (per head) there are even 2 Veyrons in Almaty. There is wealth you cant even imagine in Kazakhstan, so please do get facts right before making insulting comments about a country.

  6. Coolio318

    [report]

    [news]

    16:38 quote

    ScoobieWRX said:

    V8Smith said:

    ScoobieWRX said:

    Agreed. Baring in mind that there is basically f**k all to do in Kazahkstan and they have next to no money to feed themselves it is a remarkable achievment. Where the hell did he get all the bits from, an OK respray, and the skill to bend those bits of metal into something resembling a roller (if you squint lots).

    He is proud to be called a chav. Well done that man!!

    Nasdrovia thumbup

    It doesnt look too bad IMHO, not sure it will look that good up close though, but from a distance it looks OK... give him some credit, hes not done a bad job, the Kazakhs are very resourceful and have much better facilities than you think, Im not at all surprised.

    So there is nothing to do in Kazakhstan............? Prey tell what experience you are basing that comment on........? Apart from hundreds of western bars including many Irish bars, a ski resort, highest outdoor skating rink, heli-skiing, a world class (half) golf course, pool/snooker halls, Ten pin bowling alleys, Go karting, hundreds of nightclubs, over 300 casinos, many cinemas, lots of outdoor swimming pools, a man made 22 mile long lake where you can go sailing and more pretty girls than you can ever imagine... There is a lot to do in Kazakhstan.

    As for people not having the money to feed themselves.......? Again your knowledge of Kazakhstan is flawed somewhat, there are more Rolls, Merc S class, BMWs, Lexus, Porsches etc in the city of Almaty than in london (per head) there are even 2 Veyrons in Almaty. There is wealth you cant even imagine in Kazakhstan, so please do get facts right before making insulting comments about a country.

    BTW... Nasdrovia means 'your welcome'................. welcome to what...........?

    It may surprise you but Borat is not actually a Kazakh and his home in the film is not Kazakhstan I believe its actually Romania...

    I know some Kazahks and worked with one who i keep in touch with, and who's father is an Official in Almaty. The word is actually spelled 'Nasdrovya' and is used in the same context as 'Cheers'.

    64% of Kazahks live below the poverty line. The poverty line is set at an international standard of 1 US dollar a day. 64% of the populace represents a majority over two thirds living below 1USD per day...If that's not poor i don't know what is.

    I asked my friend who's corporate solicitor in London about who owns all the big cars, houses, offices, who goes into the clubs and casinos. She said to me mostly tourists from USA, Russia and Middle east frequent the clubs and casinos. Most of the big cars are owned by rich russian business people that lived there before independence from the soviet union and the new rich from Russia and the USA that have bought and built lots of new properties for the well off oil workers and the new elite. Lots of oil in Kazahkstan and it's mostly foreigners working in the oil industry and earning the money not Kazahks.

    She tells me that despite her father being in a senior job in Kazahk government and being classed as 'Middle Class' they aren't rich or even particularly well off. They don't drive big cars and have a very modest property in Almaty.

    I never even mentioned Borat!!

    I asked a 30 something well educated typical Kazahk towny to explain what it's really like. Get your own bloody facts right before berating someone elses opinion based on 'real' facts, not stuff copied off the internet.

    I just got sent this link by one of my friends living in Edinburgh. I am an expat currently sitting in my modern apartment in Almaty in Kazakhstan and have to say your arguments are seriously flawed

    1. 64% of Kazakhs live below the poverty line — untrue — I agree thier is disparity in wealth, however, in the news today the average monthly salary across the country is US$500 and if you work in the oil and gas or financial service industry then it is double that. The government subsistence level is KZT30,000 a month which is US$200, so overall wrong

    2. Who owns all the expensive cars, houses and offices — I would have to say the expats are not the majority. The «new» Kazakhs have more money than any expats. In fact it is impossible for an expat to become wealthier than a kazakh due to the relationships you need to have to become that wealthy.

    3. Who goes into the clubs and casinos — well firstly all the casinos have currently been shut down and have opened up outside of Almaty. Secondly your argument that only tourists go there is wrong. THere are viirtually no tourists here. In fact there are clubs where expats would struggle to get in as it is dominated by «new» kazakhs and the car park is full of Bentleys, ferraris, G55 (a favourite here), porsces and Merc CL63 AMG (another favourite)

    4. The big cars are owned by Russians — again wrong — the Russian population may have been signifcant just after the collaps of the USSR, however, the percentage of Russians has fallen dramatically. Kazakhs spend a fortune on their cars perhaps more than they should, I work for a professional services firm and some of the junior staff drive G55s, Audi Q7 4.2s and Cayennes

    5. Its mostly foreigners earning the money — again i can tell you this is not true, Kazakh businessmen earn far more than i could possibly imagine, with enterprises that range from oil and gas to mining to financial services to car dealerships and hotels.

    6. They have built properties for foreign oil workers — aagain false — the oil workers work in Western kazakhstan, predominately in Atyrau, where there are no flash buildings and they live in the majority on site on the Tengiz field. The buildings are being built by Kazakhs for Kazakhs, i rent a 100sq m apartment and at the peak the market price was US$350,000

    As for your friend, Government officials by law earn less than US$5000 a month, however, the majority of them do drive nice cars and live in nice houses through their other business interests. I gurantee that is not your friends fathers only business interest. Oh and a modest property in ALmaty will not be less than US$250,000

    So please get your facts right before claiming to post what you claim to be «real» facts

  7. Anonymous

    Послушай , который Я... Это не «Юр...» Так что не изображайц из себя Видока задрипанного

  8. Anonymous

    Кто бы не написал эту статью — она объективна

  9. Anonymous

    Прочитал эту статью и специально спросил у аульного дяди насчет барымты — говорит в этом году относительно тихо, но в прошлом был кердык.

  10. I am George Kashuba an expat from Australia,living in Almaty.

    We are looking for expat to join us ,for a expat club.

    Please feel free to contact me.

    kashubag@yahoo.co.uk

    Regards

    George Kashuba

  11. Пока успел прочитать только эту одну запись, если и все остальное точно также интересно, то автору респект :)