Uzbekistan Reducing Cotton Fields But Forced Labor Remains
Uzbekistan is cutting back on its cotton cultivation to make way for fruit and vegetable fields. While that happens, however, the custom of forcing state workers to pick cotton is proving hard to abandon.
The area of cotton fields is being cut by 400 square kilometers this year, and another even more drastic cut of 1,000 square kilometers is planned for 2018, according to the Agriculture and Water Management Ministry.
That will take a significant bite out of the 13,000 square kilometers now dedicated to cotton.
The agenda of reducing cotton cultivations, which is running from this year to 2022, has been adopted at the initiative of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. The plan is for those fields to make way for growing fruit and berries. Another indirect goal is to stabilize prices for fresh groceries on the domestic market. Farmers are being given tax breaks to encourage them to diversify their crops.
On the 30,000 square kilometers or so reserved for agriculture purposes, of the land that is not for cotton, 11,500 square kilometers is used to grow wheat, while the rest is for fruit and vegetables.
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