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Issues of increasing exports in agriculture discussed

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Issues of increasing exports in agriculture discussed

On March 18, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a meeting on increasing investment and exports in agriculture and the food industry.

Last year, Uzbekistan produced 23 million tons of fruits and vegetables, and the food industry manufactured products worth 86 trillion UZS.

According to estimates, exporting products worth $5 billion was possible. Still, due to improper work organization by ministers and hokims and unresolved problems of exporters, this figure did not exceed $2 billion.

The structure and geography of exports were analyzed at the meeting. More than ten new markets were opened over the past year, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Colombia, and Indonesia, bringing the total to 85. However, 80 percent of exports come from five countries, and ten product types account for 60 percent of total exports of fruits and vegetables.

Every year, 700 billion UZS are allocated to support the export of agricultural products and 1 trillion UZS to increase production. However, the results do not correspond to the effort expended. The potential of 1 million hectares of land released from grain crops, 508,000 hectares of household plots, and 260,000 hectares of land distributed among the population is not fully used. Some districts do not export fruits and vegetables at all.

The Head of state expressed his readiness to consider creating the necessary conditions for increasing agricultural and food exports this year.

“Controlling inflation and ensuring currency stability are directly related to exports. If we do not expand the conditions for export along with an increase in production, the result will not meet expectations”, the Head of state said.

Representatives of exporting enterprises and logistics companies attended the meeting. The President held a dialogue with them and listened to their problems and initiatives. The proposal was supported to transfer trading houses in Germany, Hungary, Poland, Spain, the United States, and Kazakhstan to the management of entrepreneurs, as well as to open trading houses in major port cities such as Nagoya, Mersin, Rotterdam, Qingdao, Klaipeda, and Doha.

The first private laboratory with international accreditation opened recently at the Agricultural Services Center in Yuqorichirchiq. This year, thanks to an investment of $8 million, similar modern laboratories will be launched in Zangiata, Fergana, and Samarkand.

A reference laboratory will be created in Tashkent to ensure that private laboratories’ work complies with international standards. $12 million raised from the World Bank will be allocated for these purposes. In the future, internationally recognized reagents will be exempt from customs duties and will not require a mandatory environmental certificate.

Responsible persons have been instructed to ensure international accreditation of other laboratories, study the national requirements of foreign countries for the quality of fruits and vegetables, and inform our exporters about this.

The need to revise the participation system in international exhibitions was emphasized, and entrepreneurs’ ratings will be used as a basis. Entrepreneurs with high and average ratings will receive 100 percent financing for participation in exhibitions in advance, and those with low ratings will receive 50 percent compensation of expenses after providing supporting documents of involvement.

One problem many export companies face is a lack of working capital. Therefore, this year, 1.5 trillion UZS will be allocated to the Business Development Bank for these purposes. With these funds, the exporting company will receive a preferential loan of up to 50 percent of the contract amount with the farmer and the procurement warehouse. Loans will be issued at 18 percent per annum with a grace period of six months for up to 1.5 years.

As is known, fruits and vegetables spoil and lose quality faster than industrial goods. Refrigerated containers will be delivered for products requiring optimal temperatures, such as fresh fruits, juices, confectionery, preserves, and jams.

Special attention must be paid to packaging to reduce natural loss and spoilage of products. In this direction, organizing a modern enterprise and attracting experienced designers is essential.

Various fruits and vegetables are grown on household plots and croplands. Many suppliers buy them in cash and prepare them for experts. From now on, they will work as self-employed persons and are exempt from all taxes, regardless of turnover.

The possibilities of the food industry were also analyzed at the meeting.

This year, it is planned to produce food worth at least 100 trillion UZS, export $1 billion, and launch 528 projects worth $833 million within the framework of regional programs. To finance these projects, $310 million was distributed to banks. These measures will increase exports of prepared food products by $200 million.

Based on the issues discussed, it was decided to create a commission headed by the prime minister for the export of fruits, vegetables, and food products.

A three-year program will also be developed, covering the entire cycle from cultivation to storage, packaging, processing, and sale of products. Measures will be taken to support 2,362 enterprises exporting agricultural products and increase their number. It was instructed to create a permanent platform for dialogue with exporters to exchange information about available products in the regions and demand and prices in foreign markets.