11 Dec 2017 15:41

Uzbekistan plans to stop raw cotton exports in 2018, to ship only finished goods

TASHKENT. Dec 11 (Interfax) - Uzbekistan is planning to process harvested raw cotton itself in 2018, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said in a talk with agricultural workers on Sunday, published by the Uzbek media.

Mirziyoyev named securing quality cotton for light industry as among objectives for developing agriculture.

"In 2018 we are planning to process all the 1.2 million tonnes of raw cotton produced in our country ourselves and send only finished products for export," Mirziyoyev said.

He said that due to the development of the agricultural movement in the country over recent years, over 160,000 farms have been set up. The number of diversified farms has increased 45% to 75,000 in the past two years.

The president cited data saying that Uzbekistan had produced 8.377 million tonnes of grain, over 2.930 million tonnes of cotton, 12,450 tonnes of silkworm cocoons, 318,000 tonnes of rice, 23 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables and 13 million tonnes of meat and dairy products.

He said that 132,000 tonnes of agricultural produce had been processed and $100 million worth of finished goods exported. A total of 724,000 tonnes of fresh fruit was exported for $865 million.

"However, these achievements are no cause for complacency. There are still untapped opportunities in agriculture, problems to be resolved and shortcomings," Mirziyoyev said.

He said that one of the most important tasks is the efficient use of land.

"The area of irrigated sowing land in our country is 3.3 million hectares and there is no way of increasing this. Water resources are limited in Uzbekistan," the president said.

He said that the cultivation of fruit and vegetables needs to be expanded and work stepped up to process and export these goods.

"Today a total of 15% is processed in our country; only 8% of harvested fruits and vegetables are exported. These figures do not correspond to Uzbekistan's potential," Mirziyoyev said.

In addition, he cited the low usage of 445,000 hectares of fertile land transferred to Uzbekistanis as household plots. The president said the question of improving the condition of agricultural equipment also remains essential. He said that of 146,295 pieces of agricultural equipment in the country, 38% are completely obsolete. Fruit and vegetable growing regions have been provided with only 34% of equipment for developing orchards and vineyards, the sowing, cultivation and harvesting of vegetables.

The Uzbek president spoke of the need to dramatically increase the role and participation of research and development institutes in the development of agricultural science, selection, processing and introducing advanced agricultural technology.