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Uzbekistan Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
Uzbek agriculture is dominated by cotton cultivation, despite the government trying to broaden production with other crops. The country's notorious forced labor in the cotton fields was banned in 2017 and is said to have declined significantly.
Nearly two-thirds of Uzbekistan's surface is desert or semi-desert. Less than a tenth of the land area is cultivated and almost everywhere irrigation is required. Instead, much steppe land is used for breeding animals (see below).
The Fergana Valley in the east has since ancient times been the richest agricultural region in Central Asia. The cotton fields dominate, but wheat, fruits and vegetables are grown there as well. During the Soviet era (1924–1991), food crops gave way to cotton, which eventually came to occupy 90 percent of the country's arable land.
Cotton requires a lot of water and the irrigation of large areas has dried out the Aral Sea with devastating consequences for agriculture and the environment in the area (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment). Soils are also leached by the one-sided cultivation of cotton. The result has been land destruction and widespread desertification.
In the 1990s, the regime encouraged the cultivation of other crops, and now cotton represents 40 percent of agricultural production. As during the Soviet era, schoolchildren and government employees were ordered out long ago to pick cotton by hand. The data on child labor under duress caused several major European importers in 2008 to threaten to stop buying Uzbek cotton. As a result, child labor was banned, but thousands of children were nevertheless reported to take part in the harvest work instead of going to school. In September 2017, President Mirzijojev's government banned all forced labor in the cotton harvest, but it is said to still exist, albeit to a much lesser extent.
Before independence in 1991, there were a few thousand inefficient state and collective farms. They have been transformed into cooperatives, which have greater control over their income but still partially function as in the Soviet era. Private farmers are currently leasing state land, and some sales of state land are being sold. But farmers are still obliged to deliver their quota of cotton to the state at a low - and state-determined - price. This system is hampering production, and Mirzijoev has set a goal of abolishing it by 2023. Although Uzbekistan could be self-sufficient in food, the country must import most food products.
Large areas of Uzbekistan consist of steppes used for breeding animals, especially caracal sheep, whose skins are made of Persian furs. Silk worms are also raised.
Uzbekistan has a lot of fish farms, but in the polluted Aral Sea almost all fish have died. The lake once provided around 10,000 fishermen and accounted for just over a tenth of all inland fishing in the entire Soviet Union. The large fish conservation factories near the Aral Sea are now on a low flame and get their raw material from abroad.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
28.8 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
62.9 percent (2016)
Parliamentary elections without opposition
When parliamentary elections are held, according to the authorities, 88 percent of those entitled to vote participate. Election observers from the OSCE say that the election was conducted in a formal sense, but adds that there was no open debate and real opposition during the election movement. All four participating parties support President Karimov and his government.
Generous Russian promises
When Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Uzbekistan, he promises that the Central Asian country's debt to Russia of the equivalent of $ 865 million to $ 890 million will be written off. The countries enter into an agreement on "long-term and stable" exports of Uzbek agricultural products to Russia. Putin is keen for Uzbekistan to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, which will replace Eurasec at the end of 2014.
Uzbekistan at the bottom of the corruption league
The organization Transparency International classifies Uzbekistan as the world's eighth most corrupt country.
Assistance should rescue endangered lake
Uzbekistan receives $ 3 billion in international aid to save the shrinking Aral Sea. The support should include, among other things, the social and health problems that have arisen as a result of the lake's dehydration. Contributors include the World Bank and a number of other international organizations.
HRW alarm about constant torture in prisons
The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) writes in a report that Uzbek authorities routinely torture imprisoned journalists and human rights activists. HRW writes that 34 prisoners are currently subjected to torture and abhorrent conditions in prisons. The organization calls on the Western world to impose sanctions on the Uzbek regime.
President's daughter is being investigated for crimes
A criminal investigation is being launched against President Karimov's daughter Gulnara Karimova. No details are disclosed more than her being designated a "member of a criminal group". The investigation is considered the death knell for her possible ambitions to succeed her father in the presidential post. Judging by all this, the criminal investigation is done with the good memory of the president.
The president daughter's employees are imprisoned
A military court sentenced 13 employees to President daughter Gulnara Karimova to lengthy prison sentences for fraud, illegal currency handling, money laundering and tax evasion. The scarce information does not show how long the sentence is, but the prosecutor's office announces that criminal investigations are ongoing against a further number of people in the same cases. One of those convicted is Rustam Madumarov, who has long been designated as Karimova's boyfriend.
Women are convicted of espionage
Three women are sentenced to long prison terms for being spied on Tajikistan's behalf. They must have provided photographs of military facilities and military personnel information to the Tajik security service. One of the women is sentenced to 15 years in prison, the other two to 14 years each.
Tighter rules for Internet cafes
The government is tightening the rules for internet cafes. All public Internet sites must install surveillance cameras and all traffic data must be stored for three months. It is also prohibited to have internet cafes in basements or other premises below the ground floor.
President's daughter in house arrest
In a letter sent to the British media company BBC, President Karimov's daughter Gulnara Karimova states that she has been placed under house arrest and that she is subjected to intimidation, abuse and constant surveillance.
Criminal Investigation against President's Daughters
Swiss prosecutors launch a preliminary investigation into money laundering against Gulnara Karimova. In connection with the criminal investigation, amounts in excess of $ 900 million have been blocked in Swiss accounts. The suspicions against Karimova apply to irregularities in the Uzbek mobile phone market. Swedish Finnish TeliaSonera belongs to the companies suspected of involvement in corruption related to Karimova. Swedish prosecutors suspect that Karimova received bribes for entering TeliaSonera in the Uzbek market.
Officials' trips abroad are limited
President Karimov issues a decree that higher officials must have special permits to travel abroad. Twenty-five people, from the Prime Minister to the provincial governors, must have permission from the president personally to leave the country. A further 15 heads of state authorities must have foreign travel approved by the government. Senior police chiefs, judges and prosecutors must request exit permits from the president's office. The measure is said to be aimed at "protecting state secrets".