A sad story of villages
Economical reforms, which were thought out by our country's government to move forward, threw away agricultural sector and rural communities for many years backwards. The reference is about those changes, which begun after Soviet Union disintegration and which are still going nowadays. The crisis added its own corrections into this, on top of that, chaotic and unsystematic process, and as soon as today many our villages and auls (Kazakh – small village primarily engaged in cattle-breeding) are virtually been put on the line of extinction, desolation and anarchy. In these situations rural people are forced to find new methods of survival and to advance the older ones.
The new community phenomenon
Sadly, we quite recently realized the necessity of normal functioning of agricultural sector in our country. Special governmental programs to support villages were, as it becomes obvious today, not one of the most important directions of modernizing economical system, but unsorted events which were dictated the necessity to somehow balance different directions in economy. And it is been done with availability of huge amounts of spare finance in the budget. As the result, when hard days of the crisis came, the programs of villages support were curtailed in the first stance, and rural people again found themselves thrown upon their own resources. Aside from that, when cities' needs in labor have decreased, and villages approved its incapacity in terms of labor-creation, the level of desolateness of our agricultural sector become clear.
However, many rural people weren't despaired and in essence didn't felt the crisis influence upon them. As they stating themselves, they have crisis for the last twenty years, thus no global financial recessions are frightening them. From the other side, this is bad – in essence, those villages and townships, which habitants can provide themselves with food, are virtually living on their own, in isolation from the rest of the country. And there are very few of such auls. The others are either died or going to.
It is interesting that even after socialistic system fall (which gave, inclusive of Kazakhstani agricultural sector, the phenomenon of soviet style of organization – Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes), it wasn't essentially a catastrophe for the villages. Despite the fact that overall majority of collective farms have financial support from centers, our villages were ruined not by the lack of state financing but by banal stealage and barbarity. For instance, many villages and townships showed by their own examples, that weakening, and more over that, closing of Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes activities in many regions pushed rural people to self-organization. As a matter of fact, this process theoretically could become massive, if the state would have been made an arbitrary decision and thus could have keep at least a part of agricultural sector in relative sustainability. In due times, people of such villages were cooperated quite successfully and actually reincarnated Kolkhozes, except without bounding it to "center".
Everybody now has their own fields, but, for instance, fodder fields are tilled together; remains of agricultural machines after Soviet Union disintegration were also collected and repaired altogether. In other words, those fields and machines are belonging to each one. Then, people are harvesting crops together on each modern Kolkhoz member's piece of land. Generally, small farms in grain-growing regions of the country or, for instance, cattle breeders in Semirechie, where there are no problems with pastries and where lands weren't taken into private property, are surviving in such collective manner. And all things there now are completely depending on who was actually at the helm in period of distribution of the land pie.
The thing is that right after the Soviet Union disintegration, and then after scandalous acceptance of Land Code in 2002, in many villages and townships all usable areas under crops and pastries have entered private property of people close to local administrations, who were buying excellent lands by hundreds of hectares for nothing. It appeared that in due time all people could have been given a piece of cultivated land around their habitation in amount of few hundreds of hectares. But most of rural people knew nothing about such claims; now they don't need to since all lands were already claimed. All documents were taken out by local latifundists and villagers were given nothing. A picture that we used to, witnessed many times. And only few faithful local governors gave lands to the people, who have legal rights on it.
And this is already a massive problem. Fundamentally, as rural working people are inclined to think, to raise a specific village is possible with competent management and reasonable help from the state.
Deputies and social activists are shouting from each ones corner – some of them are trumpeting that everything is fine and beautiful in both rural areas and cities; others are opposite, singing a requiem, operating with generally accepted definitions and stereotypes about rural life. But both sides are wrong, because all their arguments are falling to dust without actual understanding of situation in modern aul.
For example, the most widespread myth – high prices on crops, which allegedly can't allow to be engaged in cattle breeding. Being involved in cattle breeding, as in any other business, you need the initial capital to buy young animal and feed for them, one way or another. Hardly that any villager is seriously thinking about hitting a jackpot on meat sale in the end. Private farms are not supposed to have its own vast feeding base, but without it there is no business to talk about. More like animals in this case could be described as piggy banks of some sorts. To put it simply, by feeding a pair of bulls or around five pigs for instance, you put up in it as much, as you could get on finish.
Farmers themselves are stating that in this case it is much more profitable to buy expensive feeds (crops, corn, or barley) then cheap ones, to which off-corn can be referred. Firstly, an animal which is fed by nutritional crops, is eating less in terms of volume, grows more quickly and gives finer meat. Nevertheless, there's still no profit from it.
And this will continue till that very moment, when a farm will became larger, until you will cultivate your own land, growing lion's share of feeding stuff for your number of heads. That is manageable only by working collectively.
Principally, for that reason there is no huge help required from the state. Many people nowadays are ready to work in agricultural sector, which busts the second myth – the myth that youth don't want to stay in villages. Our own research shows – they are indeed want to, but the state should create at least minimal conditions for it – access to cheap credits and taxation moratorium for the returning period. And of course – fields to seed crops are required. That is the moment, when the state should show its will to accept and repair mistakes of the past, by: confiscation private property lands, bought for nothing in due time or either buying it out by prescribed price. If to say objectively, sometimes akims (heads of local administrations) were outraging by the quiet, exploiting the situation of distribution of the best lands in the cities and suburbs.
If we could implement these minimum conditions, villages would get a realistic perspective. Thus, we could kill two birds with one stone – by giving help to small and medium businesses and to raise agricultural sector in the same time. However, seems that it is easier to put specific auls on addiction to subsidies and to wrap it until inviting perfection.
Milk rivers are clabbering.
The situation in crop –growing regions of the country deserves a particular review. There, despite the country's aim to grow wheat, the situation is hardly better than with any of local private farms in other regions of Kazakhstan. We will talk about it in closest time. Now it is wanted to recall those, who are usually referred as "self-engaged" in our country. In other words, the thing is about unemployed village habitant, who is feeding from his kitchen garden, private farm and his own thrift. Great cattle give good enough income; or gave, to be precise. By owning five cows, you could get up to 50 liters of milk. Accepting price nowadays is about 60 tenge per liter – its 3000 tenge per day. Very good money for a villager, especially taking the fact that great cattle feeds itself on wild fields for 9 months over a year (and for full year in southern regions). However, the situation with acceptors (intermediaries) today is somehow become complicated. In period of the crisis milk factories and other milk-processing companies prefer to work with milk powder rather than with fresh milk, since first one is cheaper. Because of that reason, many people are simply couldn't sell milk; at least, they don't do it regularly. In fact, in the winter time cows give less milk or no milk at all.
During crisis times, in addition to other miseries of rural people, the new-old barymta reappeared (means horse-stealing, which was popular in nomadic times). Cruel times – cruel people. Cattle reived from pastries rustled from farms and butchered barely near villages. In some villages close to Almaty reive of great cattle and horses happens virtually every week. The amount of stolen sheep is not even counted. There are rumors that handy professionals are stealing cattle nearly on customer's orders. Customer point out measurements of horse or cow, and stealers are reiving many on their choice to prevent customer's declining. In late autumn and early winter, when Kazakhs are usually butcher cattle for Sogym (meat supply for winter month), cases of cattle stealage are sharply increasing. Besides, quite soon, as serious cold spell begin, hunger will drive wolves to settlements, which population couldn't be controlled by local authorities. And then cattle-breeders would have double pressure – both from two-foot predators and from grey ones.