Plant protection in post-Soviet Kazakhstan: the loss of an ecological perspective

K. Toleubayev

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


This thesis examines why and how plant protection issues are embedded in political, economic and social contexts. It analyses the domain of plant protection in Kazakhstan under two different socio-economic and political formations, namely the Soviet period before 1991 and the post-Soviet period thereafter. The study of plant protection in a country in transition demonstrates how the wider political and socio-economic structures shape this particular field of agrarian science and practice.
The thesis illustrates how Integrated Pest Management (IPM)/ecology-based pest-control approaches were broadly developed and practised in the USSR, including Kazakhstan. It identifies a shift from a knowledge system aiming at sustainable pest control in the Soviet era to an exclusive focus on pesticides in post-1991 Kazakhstan. This shift – which contradicts the global trend towards sustainability – leads to the central question of this dissertation: Why did such a shift occur in Kazakhstan after 1991? This thesis argues that the transformation of the agrarian structure, the destruction of the state-led/public organization of pest control, the neglect of research and extension and the aggressive promotion campaigns of the pesticide industry changed the plant protection perspectives in Kazakhstan. This dissertation describes how, and explains why, thinking about pest control changed within the wider knowledge system, including farming, research, extension and policymaking. As a result, essential elements of sustainable pest-management approaches were abandoned in Kazakhstan after 1991.
In conclusion, this thesis points to an urgent need to rethink and rebuild the role of the government in pest control. Without stronger policy, less afraid to embrace positive aspects of the former Soviet plant protection system, highly destructive pest organisms will continue to threaten national food security, and indiscriminate and injudicious pesticide use will continue to pose considerable hazards for human health and the environment. The study shows that plant protection is more than just ‘getting rid of pests’ at the farm level. Pest-control issues are deeply embedded in political–economic–social contexts, through which the development and use of ecologically sustainable approaches and collective action for pest control can be either promoted or hindered. The government of Kazakhstan has a key function in supporting this long-term endeavour and creating conducive conditions for this to happen, as this will ultimately contribute to a more sustainable system of agricultural production and thus benefit society as a whole.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Richards, Paul, Promotor
  • van Huis, Arnold, Co-promotor
  • Jansen, Kees, Co-promotor
Award date27 May 2009
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs9789085853824
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • plant protection
  • integrated pest management
  • chemical control
  • sustainability
  • agricultural research
  • ecology
  • government policy
  • agricultural policy
  • kazakhstan
  • ussr
  • agricultural history
  • political economy


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