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The Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan are landlocked countries dependent on very fragile natural resource base.  The Soviet legacy has left these countries with a highly integrated infrastructure and food production system, but with tensions that hinder regional cooperation.  Food security in the region is brittle, and the region has a history of conflict and political instability. 

The primary staple crop for the Central Asian Republics is wheat grown in Kazakhstan.  Kazakhstan is the 9th largest wheat producer in the world, but the 7th largest exporter.[1]  The four other Central Asian Republics and Afghanistan are the largest importers of Kazakh wheat and imports have more than doubled in all of these countries since 2004.[2]  In the Central Asian countries like Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, for example, wheat provides for more than 60% of daily calories, and a significant portion of that wheat is imported from Kazakhstan.  It has also been shown that spikes in food prices have been one of the major sources of food insecurity in Tajikistan and other Central Asian Republics.[3]

Unfortunately, Kazakhstan’s wheat sector is highly vulnerable to climate change.  Currently, spring wheat production is expected to decrease by 25-70% due to climate change after 2030.[4]  If the productivity of the sector is severely compromised it will threaten the food security of the entire region. 

With the support of USAID's $1 million grant, UNDP Kazakhstan implemented the project Improving the Climate Resiliency of Kazakhstan Wheat and Central Asian Food Security.”   The goal of the project was to catalyze the process of adaptation in Kazakhstan’s wheat sector, while also opening a regional dialogue around the challenges of climate change to Central Asian food security.  The grant had three main components:

1.      Improved Information for Climate-Resilient Wheat Production in Kazakhstan- Climate information services are a barrier to adaptation in Kazakhstan, so this component focused on improving the understanding of expected climate impacts in wheat growing regions of Kazakhstan and developing a system of continuously delivering that information to key stakeholders.

2.      Mainstreaming Climate Resilience into Wheat Production in Kazakhstan­-  a range of actions by the government, producers, the research community, and others for successfull improvement of the resilience of wheat production.  This component focused on bringing these stakeholders together to identify near, medium- and long-term adaptive actions and then mainstream those actions into existing decision-making processes.

3.      Regional Dialogue on Wheat, Climate Change and Regional Food Security­- The other four Central Asian republics and Afghanistan, who are the primary importers of Kazakh wheat, prepared for possible fluctuations in wheat availability and price.  This component brought these countries and Kazakhstan together to discuss risk mitigation strategies at a national and regional level to buffer the region against the expected impacts of climate change on wheat production.

 

[1] FAO, 2009. “Agribusiness Handbook:  Wheat Flour”

[2] RK Customs Control Committee, ATFBank Research

[3] UNICEF, 2009.

[4] 2nd National Communication of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2009.  P. 101.

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