19/02/2003, Alexei Mitrofanov
... is needed for Kazakhstan to enter the foreign markets of agricultural equipment.
Even after the reduction and restructuration of the industrial areas during the last ten years there are many sectors in the Republic, which could entail a better effect for the economy, if they would start to use at least a half of its capacities.
It is especially important to revive those industrial areas, which could be favourable even for the neighbouring areas.
One of such sectors is the agricultural mechanical engineering. Many are perplexed about it - is it still there? The majority of plants that operated in Soviet times, either already stopped to exist, or they were restructured. A huge "Tselinograd agricultural mechanical engineering plant", which provided the Virgin Lands technicians with the equipment, virtually ceased to exist in its original form, with a part of its territory occupied by a technical depot.
It is exactly to the production of special equipment that only "Kzylordarismash" remained "faithful", which used to produce the equipment for rice cultivators and the long suffering Pavlodar tractor plant. But, with all that, today there are around two thousand enterprises actually operating in the Republic, more or less dealing with the agricultural equipment production or repair. Of course, most of them are not so big, but there are at least 50 big enterprises. In total the number of persons employed in the area and in the neighbouring areas makes tens of thousands. Thus, a revival of this sector could bring about a very serious social effect.
It might be remembered that there is also the metal, needed for the tractors construction. True, not all the tractor parts are produced in Karaganda Metal Complex, but if there would be a demand, the list of produced items could be extended.
Such figures speak about a possibility of an economic effect: national specialists in agriculture, its areas, directly dealing with mechanical engineering, evaluate the potential of Kazakhstani mechanical engineering, already today capable of "devouring" the village, in 40 - 50 million USD. It seems quite a real figure.
On one hand, as it was mentioned, there are big plants operating in Kazakhstan, producing equipment, still functioning today. Secondly, the last two harvest poor years provided the agricultural producers with certain free financial funds. And, taking a disastrous wear of already available equipment (the biggest part of it made in USSR) into consideration, it would be absolutely logical to suggest that a good demand for tractors, reapers and sowing machines will be guaranteed.
Finally, another important moment for the development of our own, Kazakhstani mechanical engineering, is a necessity to strengthen our positions on the foreing markets before entering WTO. Here the Pavlodar tractors have got the best chances. They are already being sold successfully to Russia, China, Southern countries of CIS. Rare occasion nowadays: the Kazakhstani mechanical engineering production is not only comparable in quality, but it is also cheaper than the Russian one. We'd better "play on it" quickly and resolutely, occupying our own space on the market. But we've got to hurry. We have won in prices in comparison with the Volgograd plant tractors not by means of some progressive steps, but because Volga folks are still behind in the optimisation of production: in the reduction of useless facilities and personnel. As soon as it happens, and it will happen for sure, the advantage will disappear and the competition will become more acute.
Taking into account that Russia itself is a very voluminous domestic market and its big export opportunities the Volga plant can increase the production volumes quickly up to the level on which its price will fall significantly. Kazakhstan should try ro occupy the space on the market that's still available with a tractor's insistence. Or even with that of a tank.
For this, first of all, a consistent State support is needed. Unfortunately, the "Tractor" program is travelling around high offices, without being accepted by the government.