In an effort to control nomadic and pastoral tribes of central Asia, Stalin sat in his Moscow office and drew lines on a map.
These lines became the lands of, or the Stan's of, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, Turkmen, Uzbeks and Afghans.
Since gaining independence the lines stayed and each country either forged ahead in an effort to create a more open society or desperately and sometimes violently hung on to the mechanisms of their former soviet occupiers.
Actually this is a common issue right across the FSU; ex-soviet countries that despised the occupation but cling on to all the bad bits like monumentally depressing bureaucracy and repressing free expression.
Some of the Stan’s and regions within the Stan’s are mountainous, arid with thin soils and not suited to arable farming but big bits of it are.
Kazakhstan is the sixth largest wheat producer in the world and can produce 27mmt of grain in a good year (2011) or if it doesn't rain, 17mmt as predicted for this year.
So far they have cut 383kha producing 436kmt of grain yielding 1.14mt/ha.
Not a brilliant granted but it’s not difficult to imagine yields increasing through improved plant genetics, investment in equipment, technology and training.
And here's the interesting bit, Kazakhstan has 30 million hectares of arable land.