Kazakhstan to ban foreign investment in farmland and pastures
ALMATY (KAZAKHSTAN) – The Kazakhstan government is mulling banning foreigners from owning or renting farmland in the country, said President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Thursday. This has brought to an end prolonged disputes that once triggered anti-government protests.
The former Soviet republic is a major producer of grains, oilseeds and meat and five years ago, the government decided to woo foreign investment into agriculture by opening up the farmland market.
But the plan was met with public protests and demonstrators expressed concerns that neighbouring China would lap up all fields and pastures in the country.
This forced the government to shelve the plan. On Thursday, the president said foreign ownership ban would remain in place.
“The land (ownership) issue has always been very important to our people. It is a cornerstone and a sacred symbol of our statehood,” Tokayev said at a meeting with an advisory council.
“I order that the sale and leasing of agricultural land to foreigners and foreign legal entities be forbidden. This also includes legal entities with foreign shareholders.”
China is Kazakhstan’s major trade partner, creditor as well as investor. However, its growing clout has sparked a rise in anti-Beijing sentiments among locals. It was fuelled by reports of a crackdown on ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang province of China.