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Daniel Kunin of Kusto Group on Driving Growth Through Private-Public Cooperation

Growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Yerkin Tatishev's Kusto Group, alongside both private and international investors along with the Government of Kazakhstan, is leading the way to diversity and growth in the agricultural economic sector of the country.


Yerkin Tatishev, third from the left, Daniel Kunin, far right, and members of Kusto Group visit an agribusiness operation in the United States.

Kusto Group and founder and chairman, Yerkin Tatishev, share a common vision with the country of Kazakhstan: sustainable growth in the country's agricultural sector and a strategy of developing partnerships to provide new technologies and increase implementation of the industry's best practices. A managing director of Kusto Group, Daniel Kunin, says that the cooperation between the company and the leadership for Kazakhstan plays a critical role in the growth of the company, the agricultural sector and the entire national economy.

Kusto Group, an international firm based in Singapore with interests in multiple sectors, is committed to modernizing and to the continued development of Kazakhstan's agricultural industry by expanding local operations, advancing new initiatives and forming partnerships around the globe.

Realizing Kazakhstan's agricultural potential

In the past, oil and natural gas have led the way for the economic stability of the nation. The weak oil price of late has obliged the country to look elsewhere for economic opportunities. The agribusiness industry is ripe for development supported by Kazakhstan's rich agricultural heritage and potential for growth.

The agricultural sector has also become a priority for Kusto Group and is a crucial element for achieving growth and attracting global investments. Kunin has said that Kusto Group is emphasizing the building of a sustainable protein export business and modernization of the agricultural sector.

This venture requires "long term thinking, strategic planning, intensive stakeholder, mapping and understanding, and the creation of a network of inter-linked partnerships that are both joint ventures but also intensive public-private partnerships," according to Kunin.

Partnerships vital to success

Daniel Kunin, a Managing Director of Kusto GroupKusto Group has recently partnered with US-based Tyson Foods and the Government of Kazakhstan to collaborate on a project that includes the construction of modern beef processing plants in Kazakhstan. Tyson is one of the world's largest food companies and this venture will lead to the construction of three different meat processing plants over the next 5-10 years.

The first plant is anticipated to have a 2,000 head per day capacity with construction estimated to begin in the spring of 2020. This deal will help Kusto and the country of Kazakhstan emerge as a global leader in agriculture through the use of modern technologies and modern practices. It will also increase confidence in Kazakhstan's investment market.

Kusto signed a joint venture in July of 2019 with the US firm Valmont Industries to manufacture modern irrigation systems in Kazakhstan. This venture is backed by a $50 million investment with the manufacturing facility expected to produce 1000 systems per year. A scarcity of modern infrastructure equipment has hindered the country's potential for growth and the introduction of precision irrigation systems is expected to have a game-changing effect on the industry.

Innovations from seed to table and a vertically integrated approach to livestock production are the cornerstones of Kusto Group's livestock division, KazBeef. One of the company's early ventures in agriculture was with Baumgartner Agriculture Science and Service (BASS), a Minnesota-based firm to develop and introduce non-GMO, high-yield seeds for feed crops to their operations.

This third-generation seed breeder is developing and producing world-class non-GMO seeds specially selected for the climate and environment of Kazakhstan. This provides high-quality fodder crops for KazBeef's rapidly expanding livestock division. With this collaboration, Kusto Group aims to transform Kazakhstan into a major seed hub for the region.

Kusto Group committed to growth

KazBeef recently opened a state-of-the-art meat processing facility in the Akmola region of Kazakhstan. This facility has a storage capacity of up to 6,000 tons of beef per year. KazBeef's current operations cover 120,000 hectares of pastureland in the region alone that supports 5,000 head of Angus and Hereford cattle.

Kusto Group was the first in the country to import pedigreed stock from the United States with the goal of ensuring the best genetic foundation of cattle breeding for their operations. KazBeef organized the first annual auction of breeding stock in 2013 in order to contribute to the development of the livestock breeding of the entire country.

Kusto Group looks to the future

Daniel Kunin asserts that at Kusto Group, there is a deep-rooted sense of ethical responsibility to all stakeholders. Thinking about how a project affects a town or community is important. Their partnerships are treated as team members and this company ethic pays off dividends to all in the medium to long term.

Looking to the future, Kusto Group intends to extend KazSeed and KazBeef sales beyond the borders of Kazakhstan. It looks forward to supplying high-quality seeds and beef to all of Central Asia as well as entering the Russian and Chinese markets.

The company's joint ventures with other industry leaders and their private-public partnerships provide a solid framework for the expansion and sustained growth of Kusto Group and the entire national industry of Kazakhstan.

Yerkin Tatishev has expressed great pride in the partnerships developed with the Kazakh Government and their shared interests in advancing the agricultural sector. The company has asserted that it will continue to welcome efforts to open this sector to technological advances and with the financial clout of US businesses. These partnerships make for an exciting time to invest in Kazakhstan.

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