In late April and early May 2016, a series of protests broke out in cities across Kazakhstan against government proposals to amend the country’s land code.
The amendments were intended to boost investment in the agricultural sector by extending the period that farming land could be leased by foreigners from 15 to 25 years, and making it easier for Kazakhstani citizens to buy agricultural land at auction.
There is no doubt that Kazakhstan’s agricultural sector is in need of investment. Officially almost 20 per cent of the labour force is engaged in farming, yet the sector accounts for only 2.1 per cent of total investment spending. According to the authorities, agricultural productivity is half that of Russia and a tenth of the OECD average. Despite its low population densities, Kazakhstan imports more than 25 per cent of its food.