Green Economy in Kazakhstan focuses on rural development
Green economy in coronavirus conditions: what projects are being implemented and what experts focus on. Why does the rural areas have to be developed? How to learn green technologies online? We will speak about this and much more with Chairperson of the Coalition for Green Economy and Development of G-Global Saltanat Rakhimbekova.
Hello! Could you please tell us how the green technologies develop in the coronavirus conditions?
We are strengthening the focus on the “Sustainable Development Goals-2030” (SDGs-2030) implementation by civil society, social and environmental volunteering during the Year of the Volunteer. Nearly 15 out of 17 global goals are related to the green economy. This year, most of the projects are aimed at rural support given the growing global crisis due to coronavirus. The agricultural industry suffers little from quarantine measures. Economic activity in household plots and cottages will receive a new development in the isolation.
Our approach to the rural development is based on strengthening the social activity of the rural residents. Events, especially the Forums of Rural Women of Kazakhstan, have grown into the creation of a rural women's movement based on the principles of sustainable development and the green economy that underlies most of the “SDGs-2030” goals. We focus on the development of personal subsidiary and family farms, which are the main food producers in the world.
You are not just helping to implement the projects, but also train people. How?
Indeed, we have organized seven demonstration and educational Green Technology Centers in the regions, which are the reference points for a wide range of projects. They could, for example, fulfill orders from employment and career centers for training in new “green” professions. The training is being carried out in other projects as well.
Your new but ongoing project is the online farming school. What feature does it have?
The coalition launched the project of the online school “Personal subsidiary plots” in March this year. No support measures will help achieving results without mass training of rural residents in advanced agricultural technologies. This must be understood. Education by professional specialists and experts is free. It is carried out for the first time in Kazakh language, which is important for residents of remote villages.
What do you teach the farmers and those who are about to start their own farm?
We have already presented to our students several courses on creating their own business in the countryside with minimal investment and high profitability such as growing micro-greens, growing mushrooms, breeding poultry, vegetable growing in greenhouses and beekeeping. Any interested user of the website can register and receive a username and password from a personal account for free training. In the future, we can virtually invite any of the world's best innovators, volunteers, specialists in the latest agricultural technologies from abroad and conduct live courses for millions of people with translation.
What did the crisis and the coronavirus pandemic bring to your work?
We are increasingly focused on ensuring food security and supporting rural employment. As I said, we focus on the dissemination of technology for self-employment at home, on support for private farms and small business in the countryside. These priorities for economic recovery were outlined by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on May 11. We identify and support home-based businesses that have rapid return and are easier invest in.
The green economy is, first of all, new economic mechanisms. Therefore, we distribute such support mechanisms as commodity loans, investment in training, in the future harvest. It is necessary to search for alternative sources to replenish the country's budget in conditions of oil price drop in the world. Fortunately, the vast territory and natural resources of Kazakhstan allow this. After all, the country takes the third place in the world in terms of land unspoiled by agrochemicals and GMO crops. Kazakhstan takes the fifth place in terms of pasture area and it can become a world agricultural power if it can improve the quality of land on the principles of agroecology promoted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and adaptation to climate change.
How do you assess the Kazakhstan’s potential in the development of green technologies? Are people enthusiastic about the innovation?
We have tremendous potential for the development of the green economy, solar and wind energy, biogas, waste processing, new agricultural sectors, the production of “green” goods, environmentally friendly and health products. Human immunity greatly depends on the quality of nutrition, especially now, during the pandemic. Vertical crop production provides an opportunity to grow many vegetables and berries on a small plot of land. It is profitable and interesting to farmers. Electronic commerce, online stores, mail delivery and couriers become important for selling products and having orders through the Internet. This is relevant for rural residents living near cities that are closed for the lockdown.
This year you are launching the new “Auylonimi” project for the cooperation of family farms based on the principle of “One village – one product”. What is its advantage?
The project was initiated by the coalition. It was supported by the Kazakh Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population and started to work in eight regions at once, including West Kazakhstan region, Turkistan region, Karagandy region, Akmola region, Almaty region, Aktobe region, Kyzylorda region and Kostanai region. The best activists of the rural women movement in these regions volunteered to be the project activists. The goal is to help increase population incomes by uniting rural residents to grow and produce one or more environmentally friendly, high-quality and competitive agricultural products in private farms and increase cooperation in the village as well as promoting products on domestic markets.
What other competitions does the coalition conduct and what are their benefits?
The coalition conducts a lot of contests, including "GREEN AWARDS KAZAKHSTAN" and the Green Office. The contests of environmentally friendly business and the Online-Expo-2017 competition of domestic green innovators revealed a great popularity of environmental projects among entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors. They proved that the green economy in Kazakhstan has become the movement of the people. It is time to carry out full monitoring of this phenomenon as well as eco-volunteering movement, which we have just begun to talk about.
Thank you for the interesting conversation and good luck in the implementation of the projects!