On April 18, President Islam Karimov signed a decree titled "On Measures to Observe Legality in Reorganization and Optimization of the Sizes of Land Parcels of Farmers' Associations."
This presidential measure translates into further empowerment for local administrative officials to seize farmers' land through the courts, the semi-official Uzbek news site uzmetronom.com reports.
The decree outlines the reasons that would justify seizure of a farmer's parcel, in order to transfer the land to new leasees. These include:
o not using the agricultural land for the stated purpose
o sowing of unauthorized crops not stipulated under the state contract
o failure to produce harvests at the minimum assessment level
o low profitability of the farm
According to local analysts, the decree is unquestionably intended to restrict the development of private farming, and essentially turns farmers' property back into Soviet-style collective farms.
Farmers are forced to plant the crops that the state dictates, and if they are told to plant cotton, that's what they must do. If they plant high-yield melons or peanuts instead, or fail to produce the state quotas, they could lose their land.
The state's purchase prices are notoriously low, and often don't cover even the minimum production costs for the mandatory crops. Farmers trapped in the state quota system will not necessarily see any benefit from rising cotton prices.
By further institutionalizing the harsh controls of the state agricultural system, which maintains only a semblance of private farming, the Uzbek government is further entrenching the system that forces farmers to use low-cost child labor.