Agriculture in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan has many favorable conditions for agriculture: a warm climate, a long growing season, and enough water
resources (before). Dating back to the 6th century, the Turkic tribes had
an amazingly well developed irrigation and cotton growing system even during Soviet
times, the region of Uzbekistan produced a huge amount of cotton.
About 61% of the USSR's total cotton production was from Uzbekistan,
the entire cotton industry depended on this region. Uzbekistan became
a primary cotton producer.
After independence, Uzbekistan's economy still relied mainly on agriculture,
especially cotton. As a result, Uzbekistan became one of the world's largest
producers and exporters of cotton. But because its land was mostly used
for cotton, Uzbekistan produced few other crops, thus importing most necessary grains and other foods. Recently, Uzbekistan has been attempting
to change its economic reliance on cotton, but its short-term need for
hard currency makes it harder to happen.
On the other hand, because of the little land available for farming and
the dramatic loss of water for irrigation, Uzbekistan's land conditions became
worse and worse through salinization, erosion, etc. To make the situation
even worse, the poor management of water irrigation during Soviet times
has caused more than 3.4 million hectares to be taken away, ad that is only from the Aral Sea
region. Today more than 44% of Uzbekistan's irrigated land is highly salinated.
Every year farmers start planting cotton around April 10th. They need
five days to scatter the seeds. There are a lot of different types of
cotton. The most commonly used sort in Uzbekistan is Nam Han Kang 77.
While growing, they irrigate five times, and cultivate the fields five
The cotton takes about 145 days to get ready. After that they use chemicals
to clean it. Tractors spread the chemicals around the field. After they
put chemicals in the field, people are not allowed nearby for 10 days.
These chemicals are used to clean the plants from insects and other parasites.
When about 90% of the cotton field is ready for harvest, people start
gathering. Usually whole families come to gather cotton. In the field that
we went to for a field trip, 15 families had to pick cotton. The harvest
time, depending on the weather, is roughly between 1 September and the
third week of September. One field collects over 2800 kg of cotton, and
they take about 10 days to pick all of it. The workers get 30 soum for
each kg of cotton they pick, and workers can manage to pick over 100kg
The field makes about 10 million soum from selling the cotton. Most of
it is bought from the government. THe government pays about 195soum/kg(approximately
US$0.20) for high quality, and 175~165 soum/kg (approximately US$0.18~0.16) for low-quality cotton. The difference between high and low quality
cotton is that high-quality cotton has less seeds and low-quality cotton,
more seeds. Later, the government sends the picked harvest to factories
to take the seeds apart from the cotton and clean it to be ready for export.
In my point of view I think that, even though Uzbekistan's economy will be
unstable for a few years or decades, it should change its economy. First,
it should rely more on industry. Its agriculture shouldn't rely on one
product only, but rather cultivate a variety of crops to feed its people,
and import less crops.
I think this is a perfect example of the affect of the USSR even after
its split. It also shows what the USSR government has done to Uzbekistan: even though they
knew the Aral Sea would shrink, they still put their plan into action. Their system
of communism didn't work very well because many countries are still
suffering. People are struggling to completely change their thoughts
of "equality, no matter how good or bad they are" to "start working
hard to survive."