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Increasing procurement of agricultural products is today’s most important issue

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Increasing procurement of agricultural products is today's most important issue

President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a videoconference on the issues of guaranteed provision of food to the population and maintaining price stability during the pandemic.

There is a decline in prices for oil, cotton, gas, electricity and growth in food products in the world market. Many countries have imposed restrictions on the export of flour, wheat, rice, butter, potatoes and other products.

In this regard, the most important issue today is to increase procurement of agricultural products. Uzbekistan is taking measures on growing 2-3 crops on irrigated areas and reclaiming plots withdrawn from circulation. Storage and production capacities are expanding.

Issues of increasing the volume of procurement and formation of strategic reserves were considered at the meeting.

It was noted that the leadership of Karakalpakstan, each region and district should have a clear picture of how the needs of the population will be met for the period from June 1, 2020 to June 1, 2021.

Specific opportunities have been identified to increase production, develop land that is no longer in circulation, reserves in fruit and vegetable growing and animal husbandry. Now it is necessary to organize appropriate work, to acquire products from other districts that are not enough or to sell the surplus.

For example, Dehkanabad district does not grow cotton, but cultivates grain on a pasture land. Chiroqchi district does not effectively use meadow land with an area of more than 100 thousand hectares. Organization of animal husbandry using cooperative method based on Karakalpakstan experience will show a good result in these areas.

To ensure food security, it is very important to expand the procurement of products that are not produced in sufficient quantities.

For example, almost 60 thousand tons of rice were imported in 2019. 150 thousand tons of potatoes were imported from abroad, although there are plenty of areas for growing them in the country.

Taking this into account, it was instructed to sow an additional 10 thousand hectares of rice this year, including 6 thousand hectares in Khorezm, 3 thousand hectares in Karakalpakstan and 1 thousand hectares in Syrdarya. The goal is to increase the area of potato fields to at least 50 thousand hectares and double the yield.

Only 46 percent of the capacity is used in the fat and oil industry, and 90 percent of used raw materials are cotton seeds. In this regard, it was noted that it is necessary to assign 50 thousand hectares of land withdrawn from circulation to 22 large oil and fat enterprises, to establish the cultivation of soy, safflower, sunflower and other oilseeds, and to increase the production volume based on them up to 40 thousand tons.

This year, it is expected that the yield of wheat will grow by 20 percent, and 735 thousand tons of wheat of new crop will remain at the disposal of farmers. This will increase farmers’ interest and provide population with a sufficient volume of grain and flour products.

Responsible persons were instructed to purchase wheat at the market price, storing and processing grain with the involvement of private processing enterprises.

Homestead land has a large reserve for saturation of domestic market, and field agriculture – for export.

Tomorqa khizmati (Homestead land service) system has been established two years ago, 65 out of 244 enterprises of which already export products. However, this service is not functioning properly in many places. In this regard, the need for improving the system, allocating plots for harvesting seedlings to enterprises, and providing them with machinery and equipment was noted.

The Council of Farmers, Dehkan Farms and Owners of Homestead Lands is tasked with organizing the construction of small-sized cold storage facilities with a capacity of 20-30 tons in households.

Issues of increasing industrial processing of agricultural products were discussed at the meeting.

It was noted that the volume of imports of dairy products has exceeded 70 million USD, even mayonnaise, tomato paste, canned corn and green peas are imported, the production of which is possible with a full cycle in Uzbekistan. Milk processing level in Khorezm, Namangan and Surkhandarya regions does not even reach 10 percent.

Uzbekoziqovqatholding was instructed to increase the production of import-substituting products and export of goods based on fruit processing. Tasks were defined to export the volume of fruits and vegetables that exceeded domestic demand to the foreign market.

Coronavirus pandemic made it possible to identify mistakes made in many issues, including dehkan markets’ activities. In this regard, the need for reviewing existing standards, eliminating the requirements of state presence in their activities and organizing modern markets with participation of private sector was emphasized.

Serious shortcomings were also found in formation of strategic reserves. Reserves were not created for 5 types of products. On the other hand, wheat stocks are 5 times more than necessary.

The Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction has been instructed to critically review the nomenclature and volumes of strategic reserves and create a new reserve system.

Reports of the heads of agro-industrial sector and khokims were heard on the issues discussed at the videoconference.