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Astana, Kazakhstan • 19 April, 2024 | 12:41

Kazakhstan, EU to Cooperate on Water and Agricultural Infrastructure

Astana hosted the 14th Kazakhstan–European Union dialogue platform meeting

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Prime Minister Olzhas Bektenov held the 14th Kazakhstan–European Union dialogue platform meeting. The attendees discussed trade, economic and investment cooperation, QazMonitor reports citing

About the event: The meeting was held in Astana on April 18 and attended by heads of diplomatic missions of the EU member states and top managers of European companies. The participants outlined the prospects for cooperation in water management and agricultural development.

Regional context: The Kazakh Prime Minister addressed the ongoing severe flooding in the country and noted the importance and necessity of expanding partnerships with the EU countries for sustainable water infrastructure development.

"The scale and consequences of the natural disaster require radically new approaches for the proper use of resources and avoidance of similar incidents in the future. In this matter, we are particularly interested in the best practices and experience of European countries and companies. It is important to synchronize the efforts of the Government of Kazakhstan with the assistance programs of the European Union," Bektenov said.

  • Last year, Kazakhstan adopted the Concept of water resources management system development for 2023–2029. It aims to reduce inefficient losses in water transportation, improve the monitoring system of irrigated lands, and modernize hydraulic structures to avoid emergencies.

  • Kazakhstan is still in the process of eliminating the consequences of floods. As of April 19, 118,180 people have been rescued, including 29,000 children; 8,821 people are housed in temporary accommodation centers; 5,989 private residential buildings and 1091 courtyards remain submerged in the Akmola, Aktobe, Kostanay, Atyrau and North Kazakhstan regions.

Cooperation and sharing: Ambassador of the European Union Delegation Kestutis Jankauskas confirmed the priority of this direction. Cooperation in the field of agriculture and water management will be a key issue on the bilateral agenda this year.

"The water issue is the priority of our cooperation with Central Asia. Like other natural resources, water must have its price in order to be used efficiently. This will stimulate the introduction of more efficient technologies, and many European companies are ready to work in this direction," Jankauskas said.

Agricultural expertise: The participants of the meeting also noted the fruitful cooperation within the framework of the joint agri-food mission, which aims to promote European products in the market of Kazakhstan and increase the range of Kazakh products in the EU markets.

  • During the meeting, ambassadors of European countries and representatives of foreign companies shared their experience in water-saving technologies and the development of the agro-industrial complex.

  • Austrian Ambassador Willy Kempel presented an innovative irrigation technology and solution in the field of rain-fed agriculture, which allows for a higher yield with a significant reduction in water consumption.

  • Dr. Olga Hunger, Head of the German–Kazakh agrarian-political dialogue, noted that water conservation is a fundamental direction for the agricultural sector in Germany and Kazakhstan. In this regard, it is promising to transfer knowledge and innovations in the field of introduction of artificial intelligence in irrigation technology, and application of new treatment methods to preserve fertility and moisture in the soil.

  • The meeting also considered the experience of Finland in monitoring surface and groundwater quality using autonomous online stations powered by solar energy. The parties noted the prospects for launching pilot installations in Kazakhstan.

  • The meeting participants discussed the experience of Sweden in implementing innovative technologies in wastewater treatment.

  • The participants discussed Hungary’s experience in terms of transition to advanced agricultural technologies, including seed production.  

At the end of the session, the Prime Minister emphasized that water issues directly affect the efficiency of agricultural development, adding that Kazakhstan and the EU countries should have increased interaction overlapping both planes. Bektenov noted the potential of agricultural and foodstuffs production in Kazakhstan and invited European companies to create joint ventures in the country.

Background: Trade turnover between Kazakhstan and the countries of the European Union is $42 billion. Since 2005, the total volume of European investments has exceeded $180 billion. Last year the EU countries invested almost $10.5 billion in the economy of Kazakhstan. The EU's share in foreign trade is about 30%. About 6,000 joint ventures operate in Kazakhstan.

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