INFORMATION DIGEST No. 123

June 20, 2014

 

POLICY.. 2

Presidents Visit Samarkand. 2

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE «ABOUT MAIN FOOD PROGRAMME IMPLEMENTATION OF RESERVES IN UZBEKISTAN». 2

Narrowing Efforts. 2

 

 

Press-service of MFA of the Republic of Uzbekistan


POLICY

Presidents Visit Samarkand

President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov and President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye traveled to Samarkand on June 18.

The high-ranking guest started her sightseeing tour of the ancient city from the Mirzo Ulughbek Observatory. Built by the great scientist Mirzo Ulughbek who made an enormous input into the evolution of world civilization, the facility is an evidence of the genius of our ancestors and the centuries-old traditions in the development of our science. President Park Geun-hye got informed about the life and scholarly activities of the outstanding academic and statesman.

“Visiting this observatory, I admire the unique talent of the ingenious scientist Mirzo Ulughbek,” President of the Republic of Korea shared.

The leaders of Uzbekistan and South Korea visited the Afrosiab Museum, reviewed the exhibits that narrate the history of statehood of our people, the crafts and trade advanced from antiquity, and the extensive international ties. One of the rock paintings depicts a ceremony of reception of ambassadors from foreign nations by the ruler of Afrosiab (the ancient Samarkand). Portrayed among them is ambassador Chosona of Korea, which is indicative of the relations between our two peoples that date back to the depth of ages.

The Park “Along the Great Silk Road” created in the area of the Afrosiab Museum also constitutes a bright symbol of the robust friendship between our two countries. A monument stands there to embody the dynamically advancing bonds of friendship and cooperation between Uzbekistan and South Korea.

With keen interest and admiration did the President of the Republic of Korea tour the Registan complex. She gave a high appraisal to the wide-ranging efforts spearheaded under the leadership of President Islam Karimov to study the rich legacy of our great forefathers and perpetuate the historical monuments.

At the Registan complex, Park Geun-hye got familiarized with the exhibition of articles of national crafts and enquired into the process of weaving Samarkand carpets.

South Korea’s leader traveled also to the Amir Temur Mausoleum and paid tribute to the unfading memory of the Sahibkiran.

The high-ranking guest stressed in particular that the extraordinary monuments of Samarkand as a symbol of ancient culture and history of our people’s statehood and the great example of the national architecture art have left a lasting impression on her.

The state visit of President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye to the Republic of Uzbekistan has proved prolific. Mutually advantageous agreements were reached during the visit at the interstate, intergovernmental and interagency levels. It was noted that the signed documents will facilitate further development of strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and South Korea and raise the interaction to a qualitatively new level.

Toward the end of the state visit by the President of the Republic of Korea to the Republic of Uzbekistan, South Korea’s leader underscored the high effectiveness and constructiveness of her stay in Uzbekistan and expressed deep gratitude to President Islam Karimov for a warm reception.

(Source: Press Service of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan)

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE «ABOUT MAIN FOOD PROGRAMME IMPLEMENTATION OF RESERVES IN UZBEKISTAN»

Narrowing Efforts

Expert community urges for synergies in ensuring global food security

Food security is rapidly changing benchmarks in today’s reality. Today, it is not about just increasing the food production, but about ensuring its maximal affordability. It is most important to ensure high quality and affordable price instead of just increasing the food production volumes. Today’s world is facing an expanding abyss – food production lags behind the steadily growing population. In the near future, the problem will seriously threaten the global stability. Together with participants of the international conference on the realization of critical reserves of the Food Program in Uzbekistan, UT reporters have taken an effort to seek for the ways how to change the situation and elaborate a coordinated approach to tackle it.

Advanced agricultural technologies, development and reconstruction of infrastructure, irrigation and drainage systems, new marketing technologies and access to world markets are expected to push the modernization of agriculture in Uzbekistan in the near future. This was the conclusion reached at the last week’s international conference in Tashkent. The forum turned into the largest platform in Uzbekistan and the Central Asian region for international experts, government and business representatives to discuss the main trends in agricultural development and try to jointly find if not a solution, but at least approaches to mitigating the global challenge. This was actually the objective of the Tashkent conference.

Today, dozens of countries in different parts of the world seek to build agribusiness in the most effective way, and each has its formula. It is certainly impossible to apply the ready-made specific solutions of one country in another, but the general approach is everywhere. It is important to understand that the solution to the problem of food shortages can only be global. If a certain country or part of the world succeeds while others suffer under the burden of food crises, which might solely lead to the fact that huge masses of hungry people will rush to more prosperous countries in search of a better life, thereby undermining those economies, not designed for large-scale inflow of immigrants.

It is noteworthy that the problem was rose to the agenda about 20 years ago. In the last third of the 20th century, world food prices steadily declined due to the ‘green revolution’. By the end of the 1990s they stopped decreasing, while in the 2000s they started fluctuating, and today their growth is no surprise. Why? Experts still ‘cross swords’ in search of the answer to this question. Discarding digital calculations and complicated theories there is the truth that in the early 1990s the world had reached a limit in food production while the population continued growing. The world needed something new for a tangible step forward. The scientific thought sought for new ways of developing the industry through the genetic engineering, intensive agricultural technologies, updated agricultural machinery and more. All this has inevitably affected the final price of the product, which gradually began to grow. The overreliance on ‘green economy’ policy in some countries has played a significant role in the following food crises, when they started a scaled cultivation of bio-fuels on the fields previously occupied by food crops, in favor of non-conventional fuels like natural gas and coal. Fortunately, conditioned by its inconsistency, the tendency rapidly declined, though causing a serious damage to agriculture, especially in Europe.

As experts say, active development of the ‘green revolution’ in developing countries with their tremendous capacity for food production might be a way out of the situation. This requires joint efforts on a transfer of industrial and agricultural technologies, and exchange of experience in achieving sustainable global development. This idea has become a leitmotif of the Tashkent conference. In the final document the participants pointed out to the crucial importance of expansion of cooperation between various international organizations and research centers in the implementation of the research programs of new agricultural technologies, development of promising new varieties in modern conditions. They also emphasized the need to concentrate on the prevention of large losses of food crops, above all, vegetables, fruits and grapes on their way from the field to the consumer, and also address many problems associated with underdevelopment of refrigerators and storages, logistics and travel costs. It is noteworthy that in this context the expert community recommended to study the progress of Uzbekistan, whose experience has much to offer the world, experts believe. Why is the Uzbek model of agricultural development unique?

The processes of evolvement of global food problems coincided with the time when an independent state of Uzbekistan appeared on the world’s map. It would be a mistake to believe that back in the early 1990’s it was easy for the country to achieve everything. The industry was energy-intensive and not competitive; the equipment was technically and technologically obsolete. The agricultural sector was dominated by cotton, so the country imported most of the food products from other republics. It was just a small part of the problems that had to be urgently addressed. The country required radical solutions as it was on the edge of a food crisis. Therefore, it was decided to shift to farming as a new form of economy in the agricultural sector.

On the lease basis agricultural lands were transferred to initiative and enterprising villagers, and the government supported them through a package of benefits and preferences. Getting ahead of the facts, it is worth noting that taking into account the merits of the private sector in the development of national economy, the state has always played a pivotal role as a pillar for small businesses through establishing farms, building processing plants and refrigeration capacities, assisting with export.

The fact that farmers are well aware of how to ‘work with the land’ has also significantly contributed to the boost of farming in Uzbekistan. Since ancient times, the Uzbek land was famous for its flourishing agricultural oases, fragrant and delicious fruits, vegetables, melons and grapes both in Asia and Europe. Traditions of cultivation have been passed on from generation to generation, from father to son, turning into a true people’s science. It all was favored by nice climate with 320 days of sunshine and mineral composition of soils, creating a unique bouquet of flavor of Uzbek fruits and vegetables.

The uniqueness of the gifts of Uzbek nature was succinctly mentioned by President Islam Karimov at the forum: “Of course, we all love fruits and vegetables growing in our homeland. But what to do if not every corner of the earth has such favorable weather, climate, soil. There are so many favorable factors that scientists still have not managed to combine all, for each of these factors has a different impact. In ancient times, Avicenna used fruits and vegetables to cure people because of no availability of chemical drugs. Therefore, he treated by natural drugs, primarily vegetables, fruits, medicinal herbs. Today, our rural doctors successfully apply these skills,” said the head of state. Judging by faces of the foreign experts at the forum, through whom the President appealed to the world community, they knew well what he meant, because many of them came to Uzbekistan not just to discuss new challenges in the market, but to agree on specific business proposals for the supply of Uzbek food products abroad. Today, when many developed markets are saturated with genetically modified agricultural products, the Uzbek environmentally friendly vegetables and fruits come to the fore with their unique flavor and nutritional qualities. For the past three years Uzbekistan has more than tripled its agricultural exports.

The leading domestic suppliers actively participate in international exhibitions and specialized trade fairs. They supply more than 180 kinds of fresh and processed fruit and vegetable products to the markets in 80 countries. Uzbekistan ranks among the world’s top ten suppliers of apricots, plums, grapes, nuts, cabbage and some other fruits and vegetables.

To expand the scope Uzbekistan plans to carry out several significant initiatives in the coming years. In the near future Uzbek companies will open a transport and logistics center with the daily storage capacity of 1.5 thousand tons in the Baltic port of Liepaja. Through it fresh fruits and vegetables will be delivered directly to customers in Northern and Western Europe. Two big projects will be implemented in collaboration with the World Bank.

One of them, worth more than $260 million, will start soon in Karakalpakstan. It aims at rehabilitation of 30,000 hectares of degraded lands, and launch of diversified and highly mechanized production of food crops. Another initiative focuses on the integrated modernization of horticulture in seven regions. Worth over $200 million, the project is aimed at the upgrade and development of research capacity in the field of seed breeding and plant protection, as well as at opening credit tranches for farmers and other small businesses to invest modern agricultural technologies.

Meanwhile, Uzbekistan faces challenges. Islam Karimov did not hide them it in front of foreign experts, but encouraged them to play a feasible and mutually beneficial role in the development of domestic agricultural infrastructure. “I must say that, to our great regret, many fruits and vegetables we grow are not used by consumers in fresh but canned, processed or dried, when they lose their consumer quality, taste and usefulness from the medical point of view. Despite the considerable progress in this field, we still do not have all the infrastructure, resources and capabilities, necessary modern technologies like shock freezing, storage in a neutral gas environment to keep products fresh, we need to ensure stability and predictability of prices, reduce dependence on seasonal factors, and much more,” the President of Uzbekistan said.

To remedy the situation, Uzbekistan schedules implementation of a range of integrated programs in the coming years. The construction and complete reconstruction of 274 modern refrigerators and storages for fruits and vegetables totaling more than 190,000 tons was accomplished. For example, Navoi FIEZ commissioned a modern refrigerating warehouse with the neutral gas environment to store more than three thousand tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, which is then delivered through the intermodal hub to Europe and Asia markets. There are currently a total of 1,300 storages with the capacity of over 630,000 tons, which store the major species of fruit and vegetable production, thus ensuring stable prices in the domestic market and guaranteed exports in the winter-spring season.

Joint foreign agricultural enterprises dealing with storage, processing and export of fruits and vegetables play an increasingly important role in the domestic food industry. The sector comprises about 400 enterprises with direct foreign investment from more than 50 countries, which once again proves the uniqueness of Uzbek natural endowments and favorable investment climate. In 2013, the enterprises manufactured food to over $800 million, and exported products to more than $200 million. In the coming years it is envisaged to implement 265 more investment projects on treatment and processing of fruit and vegetable feedstock totaling approximately $150 million.

This all is just a small part of the huge mechanism of agro-industrial complex of Uzbekistan, which can not be covered in one article or conference. The important outcome of the forum is that more than 200 foreign visitors from 40 countries and 20 international organizations have avowed its major idea: Uzbekistan is genuinely interested in expanding cooperation in the implementation of joint programs and projects in the industry with all international organizations, foreign investors, entrepreneurs, banks, academicians and professionals. The Tashkent conference and its outcomes have become an important part of comprehensive measures the international community is taking to discuss and develop the approaches to address the food security problems, and create the conditions for healthy and substantial nutrition. They are expected to be a new impetus for the development of the food industry of Uzbekistan and its contribution to tackling the global food problems.

(Source: “Uzbekistan Today” newspaper)

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