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Kazakhstani farmers struggle to sell strawberry harvest amidst import surge

Kazakhstani farmers are facing difficulties selling their strawberry harvest due to a surge in imported produce. In southern Kazakhstan, Abdyzhamal Kasymbaev's farm, which spans a hectare, has nearly completed its strawberry harvest, but he cannot sell even a small portion.

Last year, local farmers struggled to sell onions, followed by similar issues with potatoes. Now, they are encountering the same problem with strawberries, despite their high quality. Kasymbaev has accrued debts instead of generating income.

Farmers in the Saryagash district have heavily invested in strawberries this year, resulting in vast plantations and an excellent harvest. Nevertheless, they are struggling to sell their produce. These farmers took loans under the "Aul Amanaty" program to finance their crops, but Turkestan strawberries are losing out to those from Turkey and Tashkent.

The price of strawberries has dropped, and local buyers are scarce. Sales revenue barely covers labour costs. As the harvest risks spoiling, farmers are desperately seeking new markets, emphasizing the ecological benefits of their strawberries.

Daniyar Kaltaev, head of the Kazakhstani Farmers' Greenhouse Association, has called for stricter regulations on imports, highlighting that some foreign producers use banned substances and hormones. However, the Ministry of Agriculture has stated there will be no restrictions on imports, insisting domestic producers must withstand competition. This year, around 20 tons of strawberries have been imported, mainly from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran. The ministry is monitoring these imports, with no violations detected.

Turkestan farmers cannot store their strawberries, leaving many to accept the current market price. In Shymkent, strawberries are selling for 1 euro per kilogram, half the price compared to last year, according to Mukhtar Aliev from the Ministry of Agriculture.


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