Uzbekistan intends to cut its annual cotton harvests to 3mn tonnes of raw cotton by 2020, down from 3.35mn tonnes in 2015, the Uzbek government said in a statement on January 16, quoting the Uzbek President Islam Karimov.
The decision stems from a combination of factors including the declining global demand for cotton fibre and falling world cotton prices, the statement said. Cutting the harvests would also allow the country to free up 170,500 hectares of farming lands that suffer from low productivity in terms of cotton production, according to the statement. These fields produce around 50% below the country’s cotton production average of 261 kilos per hectare, the statement said. The fields will be repurposed for farming vegetables and fruit.
Uzbekistan is one of the world's largest exporters of cotton. Uzbekistan has agreed to export 700,000 tonnes of cotton fibre in 2016, compared to 580,000 tonnes in 2015, local news website UzDaily.uz reported in October. Cotton is a major source of revenue for the country, raising roughly $1bn in export earnings for the government in 2013, Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev told the 10th International Uzbek Cotton and Textile Fair in Tashkent in 2014.
Despite the concerns over forced labour and child labour coming from international human rights groups, the country’s cotton industry continues to thrive and receive aid from international sources. The development of the textile industry is one of the priorities of the country. The country is planning to spent $918mn on 77 projects in the textile industry by the end of 2019, news website UzDaily.uz reported on October 15.
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