Farmers Reluctant to Grow Cotton

As farmers in the northern region of Soghd get ready for the planting season, many are unhappy at the prospect of growing cotton when they do not earn enough from it to repay their debts.

Farmers Reluctant to Grow Cotton

As farmers in the northern region of Soghd get ready for the planting season, many are unhappy at the prospect of growing cotton when they do not earn enough from it to repay their debts.

Friday, 20 March, 2009
Although just over 50 per cent of arable land in Soghd is to be planted with cotton, most farmers would happily grow something else as they no longer regard this export crop as profitable. Dry weather last year meant the harvest was low, and the slump in world prices added to their woes.



Reporter Kamari Ahrorzoda discovered that farmers in this and other parts of Tajikistan have few incentives to grow cotton these days as they either have to give up their crop to repay past debts, or if they retain it, they are not getting a decent price for it.



Despite a 2008 reform to the way the industry is funded, many farmers are still suffering the consequences of the old system where they received advance loans from so-called “futures companies”, which then took their harvest as payment, often at below-market prices.



Sharifa Jumagulova runs a farm in the Spitamen district says her business is still trapped in a cycle of debt, even though it took advantage of the reforms to seek a bank loan.



“After we applied to the banks and started working with them [by getting a loan], the investors [lenders under the old system] took us to the economic court, which ruled in their favour,” she said. “The bailiffs came and seized our entire harvest for 2008, so that we were unable to repay our bank loan. A lot of farms are having the same problem.”



Despite this, she says, local government officials continue to demand that farmers grow as much cotton as possible. Meanwhile, there is no money left over to buy new farm machinery, so farmers have to make do with whatever they have.





Tajikistan
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