By Abdul Kerimkhanov
The European Union (EU) and the World Bank (WB) intend to finance a project to develop the livestock sector in Uzbekistan.
The launch ceremony of the new five-year project for the livestock sector development took place in Uzbekistan on April 23, the Agriculture Ministry informed.
EU will allocate 15 million euros, and the World Bank - $150 million for the development of the project.
The project will address key issues in the livestock sector, such as low productivity, insufficient value added, limited access to finance and the market for small farmers, and low coordination among various stakeholders.
As many as 90 percent of livestock production depends on small farms in Uzbekistan. Most smallholder farmers remain in subsistence farming, characterized by low productivity, limited marketable surpluses, and weak connections with markets and integration into higher value chains.
Although farmers own less than 15 percent of arable land in the country, their share in livestock production has increased to more than 90 percent. Farmers own 94 percent of cattle and 63 percent of poultry in Uzbekistan.
Considering that the majority of small farmers almost do not produce marketable surplus in excess of the household needs, productivity remains low. However, 4.7 million small farmers rely on livestock to improve their livelihoods.
Agriculture Minister Jamshid Khojaev noted that the project aims to increase the efficiency of the livestock sector by increasing the number of small farmers involved in commercial value chains, increasing productivity and production, and ensuring sustainable incomes.
He thanked the EU delegation and the World Bank for their efforts to develop the sector and the continued support they render to the agricultural sector of Uzbekistan.
The project will also facilitate the establishment of productive partnerships between participants in the value chain (producers, buyers and service providers) through technical assistance grants, expansion services and additional investments.
In turn, Eduards Stiprais, Head of the EU delegation to Uzbekistan, informed that the project will focus on increasing the capacity of state economic agencies, supporting reforms of public services, research, knowledge dissemination, veterinary services, and the development of the value chain.
“In particular, the EU grant will help ensure access to finance for small producers, increase the productivity of small farmers and involve them in broader market participation,” Stiprais stressed.
World Bank loans will be used to support veterinary services and to finance working capital and investment in the livestock sector throughout the country.
Relations between the EU and Uzbekistan have been steadily developing since the country gained independence in 1991. The EU’s relations with Uzbekistan are included in the regularly revised EU New Partnership Strategy with Central Asia, which sets out the general objectives of cooperation, policy responses, and the EU’s priorities in Central Asia. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the EU and Uzbekistan, which has been in force since 1999, laid the foundations for broader bilateral relations.
Uzbekistan has been a full WB member since September 1992, when a representative office of the Bank was opened in Tashkent. Currently, the appointment of a new Head of Representative Office is expected.
Ongoing cooperation with WB is based on the Bank’s Partnership Strategy with Uzbekistan for the period 2016–2020, which provides funding for projects from concessional loans from the International Development Association (IDA) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development loans for 27 investment projects totaling $4 billion with the WB loan amounting to $3 billion.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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