The paper provides an overview of the institutional arrangements on the micro level that have evolved in the agro-food sector of Kazakhstan in the course of transition. Emphasis is laid on more complex arrangements like "agroholdings" and "clusters", hitherto mostly unknown in the agro-food sectors of established market economies. It is shown that "agroholdings" are concentrated mainly in the northern part of Kazakhstan and to a large extent in the grain sector, while in the south a scattered small scale (individual) farm structure has emerged. Parallel to this market-driven development, the Kazakhstani government tries to promote other institutional arrangements that it deems to be of superior competitiveness, especially agro-food clusters. Refering to Hayek’s concept of pretence of knowledge and empirical evidence of cluster facilitation policies of other countries the success of the Kazakhstani cluster initiative is questioned.