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Accepted Paper:

A trajectory towards farmer empowerment? Soybean cultivation in post-Soviet Kazakhstan  
Henryk Alff (Eberwalde University for Sustainable Development)


Driven by constant domestic and international demand, over the past 10-15 years, soybean has evolved into the main cash crop in Kazakhstan’s borderlands with China. In comparison to formerly dominating crops in Eastern Almaty and Zhetysu regions like sugarbeet and maize, even smallholder soybean farmers due to competition among middlemen and other customers are in a much stronger position to negotiate wholesale prices for their harvest. Exploring the socio-economic and social-ecological outcomes of a decade of intensive soybean farming, the paper asks, if the shift to soybean can be considered a game-changer and a future opportunity for farmers in the area. Also the current and potential (rather secretive) transborder impact of Chinese actors ‘on the ground’ that is forged through infrastructural modernization in the framework of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) is scrutinized as a factor in the ongoing soybean boom. The contribution is based on several months of ethnographic fieldwork in rural communities in Southeastern Kazakhstan, with semi-structured interviews being the major source of knowledge generation. It aims to shed light on the changing power constellations and actor figurations in a regional-level farming system.

Panel T40GEO
Modernization and sovietization by monocultural production in past and present Central Asia
  Session 1 Friday 7 June, 2024, -