Farmers Accuse Government of Reneging on Guaranteed Purchase Pledge

Farmers in Kyrgyzstan say the authorities have failed to honour a promise to buy up all their grain at a prearranged price.

Farmers Accuse Government of Reneging on Guaranteed Purchase Pledge

Farmers in Kyrgyzstan say the authorities have failed to honour a promise to buy up all their grain at a prearranged price.

Thursday, 19 February, 2009
Last year, the government announced plans to build up a national grain reserve as a way of protecting this import-dependent country from price fluctuations on external markets, the variable performance of the domestic agriculture sector, and speculative hoarding.



Reporter Rita Nurmambet-Kyzy visited the Mukambetovs, a farming family in the northern Issykkul province who set aside more land for wheat last year.



At harvest time in the autumn, they were fully expecting the government to pay the promised 17 soms per kilogram of wheat (equivalent to 40 US cents at the present exchange rate).



Six months on, they have not heard anything. They are worried the grain will spoil in storage, and in any case they say they need to be rid of it in time to plant a new crop this spring.



However, when they try to sell on the open market they are getting no more than eight or nine soms per kilo. Like many farmers in Kyrgyzstan, they are operating on extremely tight margins. Last year, for example, fuel prices shot up, adding to the costs of running farm machinery.



The head of the Issykkul provincial agriculture department says the government is not refusing to pay 17 soms a kilo as the going rate is now 12 soms. He says this change is something that central government needs to communicate directly to the farmers.

Kyrgyzstan
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