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Sustainable Irrigated Agricultural Production of Countries in economic Transition: Challenges and Opportunities (A case study of Uzbekistan, Central Asia)

Abstract : For the fulfillment of the thirsty ambition of self-sufficiency of the Soviets for cotton production, the arid Central Asian region and in particular Uzbekistan has been extensively exploited. In fact, vast tracts of deserts have been converted into irrigated agricultural lands without proper consideration to environment and technical standards. As a result trends in natural resource degradation (soil salinity, desertification, water quality) as well as declining crop yields have dramatically increased. The agricultural sector is the backbone for employment, food security and export revenues of the Central Asian countries. Since the independence of the Central Asian countries (after the breakup of the former Soviet Union) the situation has changed dramatically in terms of institutional, political and technical systems. Political transition, which is defined as a shift from once planned centralized economy to a market-driven one, has introduced 'new' concepts like land tenure, water rights and different kinds of ownership. All of such transformations have impacted the agricultural production in Central Asia. The institutional change can be described as decentralization of the farming systems i.e., transition from the former state collective farms into the smaller forms of private farms. The institutional interventions are aimed to increase agricultural production through improving water management. It is arguable that private production systems are the most effective business driven forces but the situation is quite different in Central Asia due to the irrigated agriculture. The biggest challenge for a sustainable irrigated agricultural production lies in the recent reforms of water management sector in Central Asia and Uzbekistan. The water users associations have been established for replacing the former collective farming systems for irrigation water distribution and maintenance of irrigation infrastructures at on-farm level. The intention of the national government was to shift the operation, maintenance and management of irrigation infrastructures to non government institutions (decentralization). However, these institutions have not fulfilled their promising tasks because of i) a rapid increase of number of private farms along canals; ii) the cropping structure is mosaic with different crop water requirements against the former monoculture; iii) a poor financial, trained and technical capacities of new established institutions; iv) a state ordered agricultural production quota system (for cotton and wheat). This paper analyzes the historical aspects of transformation in the farming production institutions in Central Asia with special focus on Uzbekistan and comprehensively overviews the main current challenges facing the farming system and potential opportunities for reversing the situation.
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Submitted on : Monday, March 1, 2010 - 2:47:49 PM
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Shavkat Rakhmatullaev, Frederic Huneau, Philippe Le Coustumer, Mikael Motelica-Heino. Sustainable Irrigated Agricultural Production of Countries in economic Transition: Challenges and Opportunities (A case study of Uzbekistan, Central Asia). Nova Science Publishers, New York. Agricultural Production, Franck Columbus ed., pp.139-161, 2011. ⟨insu-00460453⟩



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