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Kazakh president fires agriculture minister as drought hits farmers

DNA 10-5

Nur-Sultan – Kazakhstan’s president sacked Agriculture Minister Saparkhan Omarov on Saturday, saying his ministry had not done enough to tackle the impact of a drought affecting farmers in several regions.

Farmers in parts of the grains-producing country and neighbouring Central Asian states are struggling with extreme heat and a lack of rainfall, which has dried up pastures and caused livestock losses.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, speaking at a government meeting, said Omarov should step down because his ministry had failed to take effective and prompt measures to help farmers cope with the drought.

“The akimats (local regional authorities) and the Agriculture Ministry didn’t take the right decisions and necessary measures and as a result our farmers ended up in a tough situation,” Tokayev said.

Kazakhstan, Central Asia’s largest grain producer, was expected to keep exports stable at 7.5 million tonnes of wheat in the 2021/22 year, including flour, with a 2.8% decline in the crop to 13.9 million tonnes.

The former Soviet republic, sandwiched between China and Russia, is also a major producer of oilseeds and meat.

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