2,500 jobs created thanks to loans to farmers in Uzbekistan
Staff Writer |
Agriculture plays a highly important role in Uzbekistan’s economy. In 2017, 49.4% of the population – around 16 million people – resided in rural areas.
Article continues below
The agriculture sector, therefore, has a significant impact on rural livelihoods, jobs, and food security, accounting for about 17% of GDP, 15% of export revenues, and over one-third of employment in the country.
Horticulture is a significant component of the agricultural sector in the country, although the sub-sector accounts for only about 16% of aggregate arable lands, in contrast to grains (47%) and cotton (37%).
But, with a growing domestic and export market, the horticulture sub-sector is steadily increasing, primarily by displacing land used to grow cotton.
For the 4.7 million dehkan farmers who cultivate agricultural land plots of less than 0.5 ha in rural and disproportionally poor communities, horticulture is an important source of income.
Horticultural products are also grown by 21,000 larger private farms across the country. Evidence suggests that production of fruits and vegetables is among the most profitable activities for both dehkan and private farms.
Indeed, horticultural export earnings have surged in recent years, growing from US$ 68.7 million in 2000 to US$ 1.35 billion in 2013. The economic impact of the sub-sector is therefore significant, accounting for 35% of agriculture export value.
Uzbekistan has become a major producer of horticultural products, with a global potential.
In 2014, it was the largest producer of apricots, the eighth largest producer of cherries, and fifteenth in apple production. In 2016, the country exported 818,500 tons of fresh and processed fruits, vegetables and grapes to 43 countries.
The country’s main export markets are its neighbors, in particular Russia and Kazakhstan, as well as some European and Asian countries.
Although lending for agriculture has increased, the demand is considerably greater.
It is estimated that the investment needs in the horticulture sector equate to more than US$1 billion.
As such, one of the main goals of a horticulture development project (HDP) supported by the World Bank was to provide Uzbek farmers and agro-firms with access to finance.
Sub-loans allocated by local banks have funded business activities across the country that affected a larger pool of horticultural producers and 12,000 farmers by providing improved access to services and facilities (cold storage, processing) or inputs such as seedlings, fruits and vegetables (through nurseries and orchards). ■
The Polish government has vowed to seek support for its proposal to have the European Union reinstate permits for Ukrainian haulers, but the bloc's executive has declared that the return of permits is not possible, according to news reports.