Kazakhstan is taking management lessons from warrior-emperor Genghis Khan as it seeks to conquer neighboring countries' food markets, Deputy Agriculture Minister Arman Yevniyev said Tuesday.
The Central Asian nation, whose territory was once part of the Mongol Empire, wants to more than double exports of foodstuffs and other agricultural products over the next five years, Yevniyev told a government meeting.
He said meat production was a particularly promising area that could generate up to $2.6 billion in annual export revenue and presented his ministry's plans to overhaul the industry's management and subsidy system.
"Genghis Khan can be considered the founder of project management," he said unexpectedly, livening up the meeting which was broadcast online.
Yevniyev then recalled the organizational structure of the Mongol army, divided into three wings and units of tens, hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands.
"Using this approach, Genghis Khan conquered half of the world with his army," he said. "We will conquer [markets] with meat and other agricultural products."
According to Yevniyev's presentation, the biggest potential markets for Kazakh meat are China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Russia — which are, coincidentally, the directions of the medieval Mongol conquest.
Breeding livestock was the main occupation of the ancestors of today's Kazakhs — when they were not busy shooting arrows from horseback at opposing armies. Yevniyev said this nomadic heritage was another competitive advantage.
Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev urged caution with the use of bellicose metaphors.
"You've mentioned Genghis Khan — I hope we do not scare our neighbors," he said with a laugh.
The Mongol ruler is a revered figure in the former Soviet republic of 18 million, where a significant number of people trace their lineage directly to him.