Big is Bad for Tajik Farms

In a partial admission of the failure of past land reforms, the Tajik government is to disband some large farms that are in debt and owe taxes.

Big is Bad for Tajik Farms

In a partial admission of the failure of past land reforms, the Tajik government is to disband some large farms that are in debt and owe taxes.

Friday, 9 October, 2009
Jamoliddin Saifiddinov reports that large farming units created out of Soviet-era collective farms in the southern Khatlon region are to be broken up into small landholdings, which officials recognise have proved more efficient.



Abdurahmon Qodiri, the former Tajik agriculture minister who is now deputy governor of Khatlon region, acknowledges that the land reforms of the Nineties, designed to create substantial private land holdings operating as shareholder enterprises, have not been a success.



“We have done a study and it’s apparent that virtually all farms of more than ten hectares owe taxes and water fees and are not paying their workers,” he said. “Their shareholders can expect to receive only ghozpayo [dried cotton stalks used as fuel]. Yet those who established family farms and have between one and five hectares of land don’t have any debts…. The small-scale farmer has an interest in ensuring his business goes well.



Because farm workers are not being paid, Qodiri said, “We are all guilty – starting with me – of causing the exodus of migrant workers.”



Fathullo Kholmatov, who heads the provincial land management department for Khatlon, agreed that mistakes were made when Soviet-era collective farms were restructured into large farms of up to 1,000 hectares in the Nineties. People were reluctant to take up the shares allocated to them, and all too willing to sell them to opportunistic businesses which moved in on the sector but had no idea how to run a farm.



Hundreds of thousands of Tajiks, many of them from rural areas, work abroad in Russia and Kazakstan, earning far more than they would at home.



The reform is to happen swiftly – the government wants indebted farms in Khatlon to be broken up by the end of the year.
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