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Agriculture plays an important part in Kazakhstan's self-image, and continues to be a significant economic sector, employing about a third of the workforce. In the two decades since independence, agriculture has experienced dramatic swings in performance and in public policy. During the 1990s the sector suffered from external shocks, reduced public support and inchoate land tenure reform, while providing a safety net for families suffering from the transitional recession. Since the turn of the century, the booming economy has seen rural-urban migration and substantial public funds devoted to the agricultural sector. This article illustrates the steps taken to consolidate and improve Kazakhstan's position as a major agricultural producer and exporter, while also highlighting the shortcomings of current policies. It places Kazakhstan's agricultural policy evolution in the broader context of political independence from the Soviet Union and the general course of economic reforms. We highlight the driving forces of agricultural policy evolution from a political economy perspective and give an overview of specific policy measures.


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