Fergana.ru reports on Tajikistan's gradual decrease in acreage planted under cotton in favor of orchards:
According to the chief agronomist of the Sogd provincial department of agriculture, Abduvohid Yarmatov, this year 16 thousand hectares of cotton were eliminated: 71 thousand hectares were planted under cotton before, and only 55 thousand are currently. The main reason for the gradual move away from cotton is the fact that it's unprofitable...
Falling cotton yields only compound Tajikistan's cotton farmers' cycle of indebtedness, to the state and to private banks. Overall farm indebtedness exceeds half a billion dollars, and while the government has decreed part of it should be written off, the country is not close to solving the crisis.
Meanwhile, the shift to fruit cultures has obvious benefits:
If one hectare of cotton can produce crops worth up to 700 dollars, which requires 800 dollars to produce, then one hectare of grape vines will produce a harvest of 100 tons, when a kilogram of grapes at the market costs between one and five dollars. The cost to produce the grapes and cotton are also incomparable. Apricots, too, are similar...
Thankfully, in Tajikistan either some farmers seem to have the capacity to make these decisions on their own, or the state or debtholders are willing to allow them to make this change. If this were only true in Uzbekistan, perhaps farmers would live better, rural communities would be more prosperous, and children would avoid being dragooned as cotton-pickers?
Read the whole article (in Russian) here: http://www.ferghana.ru/article.php?id=6229