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Magazine       "Oasis"
Year
№ 2 (70) January 2008
№ 1 (69) January 2008
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a diamond stylus,
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Tajikistan
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Elena Dorokhova,
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"White Gold" for a penny
Bahodir Sheraliev (OSH)
Perhaps in the near future, the cultivation of cotton, which was once considered almost a monoculture in the south of Kyrgyzstan, will become inexpedient. Many of us are aware of how entire villages or neighborhoods grow on the site of former cotton plantations: this is how the housing program of the region is solved, but at the same time new areas for cotton are not allocated. Has the demand for such valuable raw materials as cotton really fallen? On the contrary, the demand for it is growing every year. Now it is purchased not only by its own manufacturer, but also by such large countries as China and Russia.

So what is the reason that instead of increasing the area under cotton, the local peasant is increasingly inclined to produce other agricultural crops? The reason is seen in the following. The time when cotton was considered a monoculture in the fields of southern Kyrgyzstan falls on the Soviet period. At that time, still strong collective and state farms, on the basis of instructions from above, “gave” a plan, whether for raw cotton or animal husbandry. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the area used for growing cotton in the south declined by 70%, mainly due to the country's economic crisis. As a result, unemployment increased, and the standard of living of the population deteriorated significantly. Today, cotton production is once again acquiring the economic importance that was in the past. Currently, more than half a million residents of Osh and Jalalabat oblasts work in this industry. Cotton production accounts for 9.5% of the country's agricultural GDP. In 2001, the Government of Kyrgyzstan established its standard of cotton, which meets international requirements. With the collapse of the USSR, all the collective and state farms were divided into plots, and all the existing farms were taken away by those in power. Naturally, small peasant farms, with their capabilities, are far from ideal, and the agrotechnical condition of the plots, due to the systematic starvation in terms of mineral fertilizers, is no longer able to produce high yields. This is the first and important factor.

The main factor in the refusal of farms to sow cotton is its low purchase price. This is what the head of the Nazimov Tursunbai farm from the former Kurmanzhan-Datka collective farm in the Karasu district of the Osh region says about this: “Every year I allocate almost five hectares of land for cotton crops. The yield is low, no more than 25% per hectare, provided that all agrotechnical requirements are met. This means a set of mechanized services, weather conditions, pest control, problems with irrigation systems and purchase prices. For comparison, on the territory of the Osh region, 20-40 tons of potato crop can be obtained from one hectare of land. In 2006-2007, the cost of potatoes was 15-22 soms per kilogram. The collection of raw cotton creates a lot of inconvenience. Firstly, it is not always possible to collect the machine, and secondly, it is not always affordable for the average business manager to involve mechanization (which, however, is not) for such purposes. We increasingly resort to manual labor. It's cheaper, but time is running out. ”

That's all behind, the harvest is gathered. Further worse. The price offered by raw buyers is not much different from its cost price. And so from year to year. Khamrokulov Ibrahim, a former brigadier of the cotton-growing brigade of the Kalinin collective farm, says: “How much labor will a collective farmer need to harvest, say, one ton? This can be understood by a person who is imbued with this craft. The current price of 15-16 soms per kilogram of raw cotton is simply negligible, which is about 40 US cents. Before harvesting, a collective farmer works on average 7-8 months under the hot sun and autumn weather. Now in 2-3 minutes of a telephone conversation you pay more. At best, this is disrespect towards the farmer-cotton grower. ”

One box of raw cotton weighs 4 grams, then simple arithmetic. Every year the question arises before us whether or not to be cotton? Many dekhkans have already refused, and those who are still engaged in this culture have significantly reduced the area for sowing. It becomes unprofitable to grow cotton and give it away for a pittance. At the same time, an increase in the purchase price of at least one dollar per kilogram would solve many problems. In order to bring some clarity on this issue, they turned to the former MP Abdurasulov Other, who in the recent past was the head of the Kashkar-Kishlak village council of the Kara-Suu district of Osh region. Here, as he commented on the situation: “I have a problem with raw cotton, I know firsthand. He grew up in the countryside. Not the first year we are trying to influence the purchase prices for cotton, but so far to no avail. Indeed, everything is going up all around. Combustive-lubricating materials (POL), mechanization services, mineral fertilizers, which strongly affects the cost of raw cotton. But at the same time, the price of cotton remains consistently low. If this trend continues, the peasant will simply abandon it and switch to more profitable crops, and this will entail an irreversible process. ”

Representatives of procurement companies are all blamed on the "capricious" London Stock Exchange, where world prices for cotton are determined. “For the last three years, the purchase price of raw cotton does not exceed 40 cents, while fuels and lubricants and mineral fertilizers have risen in price by 20%, on the other hand, cotton producers cannot independently raise the price of cotton, because the stock exchange dictates the purchase prices already in the UK. Every business has its goal - to make a profit. The only solution in this case: the interested party, whether it be the state or something else, should support the cotton growers in terms of cheap mineral fertilizers, seeds or fuel, reduce or abolish the land tax, in a word, so that the cotton grower has an interest in culture cotton, ”said Aibek Turgunbayev, chief specialist of Osh Tex.

By the way, byproducts from cotton production as, for example, feed for livestock can be sold on the market. After all, even the Liverpool Stock Exchange sets prices for cotton by-products. Cotton oil is poured and sold at retail. Well, the cotton itself goes to the corporate client. By the way, cottonseed oil is very popular in the Fergana Valley. Experts see one of the ways out of this situation in the production of organic cotton. The soils in the project (a project funded by the Swiss government) region in the past belonged to one of the most fertile in the world, but due to improper use over the past 30 years have been seriously damaged. Thus, one of the main causes of the ecological disaster of the Aral Sea in Central Asia was the excessive use of chemicals in agriculture. Today, cotton is grown with significantly fewer chemicals than in the Soviet Union, mainly because of their high cost and lack of such fertilizers. Thus, at the moment in the region there are favorable conditions for the production of organic cotton; local farmers have the opportunity to occupy a new niche in the market and increase their income. In 2006, the project attracted more than 400 farmers to ecological farming, who produced about 250 tons of raw cotton. According to the most optimistic forecasts, it is planned to increase the amount of the crop each year, and by 2010, to collect already 200 tons of this cotton fiber.
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