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Changes in the mineral fertilizer market

From year to year, thanks to the state support of farmers, the demand for the consumption of mineral fertilizers in Kazakhstan is steadily gaining momentum. Manufacturers and suppliers offer more and more varieties of macro and micronutrients to increase yields, implement agro-consulting, ensure their availability on the market, and in order to gain a foothold in this already highly competitive market, and even more so to take a leading position, a lot of effort needs to be made.

And today our guest is the director of the young but ambitious company KAZCHEM, which has entered the top 5 companies in such a short time and is ready to share the secrets of its success.

- Bauyrzhan Bulatkhanuly, your company was established only one year ago, but you are already among the top leaders in the mineral fertilizer market of Kazakhstan, what is the secret of such success?

- First, I would like to thank you for paying attention to the development of the agricultural sector, which is the backbone of our country’s economy. 

I think the secret of our success is that from the very first days our company was formed, we were very customer-oriented. We have created and will continue to create the most comfortable conditions for the farmers of Kazakhstan: timely delivery, subsidized fertilizers, availability of goods in warehouses, creation of infrastructure, etc.

- Tell me, please, how it all started? 

- We entered the mineral fertilizer market at the end of 2019, immediately setting the main goal of its further development in order to improve the quality of agricultural products. In order to effectively implement the tasks set, first of all, we formed a team, studied the market and its needs, and identified partners whose products we will present to our farmers. Thus, today our product line includes all types of mineral fertilizers for complex feeding, from subsoil application to foliar dressings, from leading plants in Russia and Europe. By the way, I want to note that this year, KAZCHEM received the status of the official distributor of YARA, and we became the first to offer fertilizers with humic acids in the CIS market.

What difficulties did you encounter during this period??

- In the first year of our work, we faced devaluation. I think many felt the dollar surge in March 2020, and KAZCHEM is no exception. I remember how then we concluded agreements with farmers and some of them made payments on Friday, and on Monday morning the dollar surged. Of course, we did not make the payment to the plant, but, despite this, we did not carry out recalculation for our customers, having shipped the goods at the agreed cost. As you understand, we lost a lot financially, but we thought about loyalty first, thanks to which the trust of our customers in us became even stronger.

- How has the pandemic affected your company??

- Of course, the quarantine has made its own adjustments to our activities, but it has rather become an impetus for us to develop. But fortunately, the agricultural sector was not affected by strict restrictions, the people need need food every day. So, for operational communication with the farmers of Kazakhstan, we urgently began to introduce electronic tools. We registered a company in Qoldau IS to generate applications for subsidies, launched a call-center: +7 701 006 36 33, which records all calls, developed and launched kazchem.kz website, through which you can generate applications for the shipment of goods, implemented online training for agronomists, wagon tracking system, mobile banking and electronic document management, thereby becoming even environment-friendly.

- Was it difficult to move from traditional tools to digital communications with farmers?

- Of course, the digital world is one thing, but understanding the needs of a farmer is completely different. So, our team of agronomists went to visit farms throughout Kazakhstan. Over the summer, they traveled more than 30,000 kilometers in the northern region alone, visiting about a hundred farms. You have no idea how exciting this trip was! We moved along with farmers through their fields, and they shared their life stories with us, telling us pains and sorrows, demonstrating fields sown with and without fertilizers. With the naked eye, one could notice the difference and pride of the owners for their “possessions”.

- Tell us what caused the creation of a network of regional warehouses. these are considerable expenses in the company budget.

- Through direct communication with farmers, we understood how important it is to develop infrastructure and ensure the availability of mineral fertilizers. Literally in 2-3 months, a network of regional warehouses located in 8 regions of Kazakhstan was created. The locations of the warehouses were chosen taking into account the basic needs of farmers: the presence of railway dead ends and the implementation of unloading and loading operations. Now shipment of mineral fertilizers is made at any time of the year. In addition, if necessary, the company delivers goods by rail or road directly to the customer’s warehouse, or directly to the field, in order to reduce the burden on farmers during the peak season of field work.

- What are the priorities for the development of the industry today?

- Unfortunately, to this day, the consumption of mineral fertilizers per unit of sown area remains at a low level and amounts to only 3.9 kg per hectare, while in Russia they apply almost 61 kg per hectare. And the area of ​​crops where these mineral fertilizers were applied is only about 12% of the total sown area of ​​agricultural crops in Kazakhstan. Can you imagine the potential of our land?! After all, every year if you do not fertilize the soil, it is depleted, so our main guideline is to help farmers increase soil productivity and get a harvest from each hectare.

- In terms of numbers, what indicators have been achieved in general?

During the first year of our activity, we supplied about 20 thousand tons of mineral fertilizers throughout Kazakhstan, it turns out that the productivity of about 400 thousand hectares of arable land was restored, which undoubtedly affected the quantity and quality of the crop subsequently received by farmers. And this is the most important thing for us, we are focused on result!

Speaking about our achievements and talking about the difficulties we had to face in the first year of our work, I still want, on behalf of KAZCHEM team and on my own behalf, to thank everyone who was supported us, thereby helping us to effectively overcome the emerging obstacles on path to success.

- KAZCHEM a year ago and today has grown significantly, please share your company’s development plans for the coming year.

On the way to achieving the status of an industry leader in the Kazakhstan’s market, we aim to continue to work on effectively meeting the needs of farmers in our country. Already this spring we are launching our own production of liquid nitrogen fertilizers. We will conduct field experiments, and also plan to enter foreign markets: China, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, etc.

Listening Bauyrzhan Bulatkhanov who speaks with genuine interest and love about his business, we can surely say that KAZCHEM is moving in the right direction, and this is only thanks to the trust of our farmers, KAZCHEM is today rightfully considered one of the leading companies supplying mineral fertilizers in Kazakhstan.