Agricultural Complex of Turkmenistan: Points of growth and algorithm of diversification

Intensive development of agricultural complex is one the priorities of the state policy of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, which is directly related to the provision of food abundance in the country, high level and quality of life of the population. Large-scale changes aimed at improvement of efficiency of agriculture, increment of production volumes of various agricultural goods are successfully implemented in this sphere.

During working session of August 19, the Head of the State highlighted that wide variety of high-quality goods, which are competitive in the world market and give an opportunity for successful import substitution and enhancement of export positions, is produced in the result of steadfast implementation of the programmes of social and economic development of the country.

Another phase of multilevel reforms, modernization and diversification of all branches of national economy including in agricultural complex has been started after adoption of the Programmes of social and economic development of the country in 2019 – 2025.

Integrated measures are taken for solution of the objectives of further improvement the management and structural reformation of agriculture, formation of new economic relations, rational use of water and land resources, improvement of land fertility and production of agricultural crops, introduction of advanced technologies and latest technical and scientific developments.

In this regard, diversification of agricultural production, establishment of actual relations between agricultural producers, processing and service structures have been outlined among topical directions. Specific assignments have been given to the management of agricultural complex on compliance with agricultural standards during all works and steadfast improvement of water supply to the fields.

Turkmenistan steadily implements the strategy for solution of water issues, which have global significance. Water diplomacy, outlined by the President of the country as a priority of foreign policy, implies not only long-term cooperation in this vital sphere but also direct development of own advanced practices, which efficiency could serve to entire humankind.

Having richest practice of rational water use gained for thousands of years, Turkmenistan develops it based on the most modern approaches taking into account global trends as well as proposes international ecological initiatives.

Opening of the Regional Climate Change Technologies in Ashgabat under the UN aegis is one of them. Speaking at the VII World Water Forum in Tegu (The Republic of Korea), President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted that water problems would be able to become a separate direction of the activity of the Centre.

Cooperation between forethought of activities in regard to water management and level of agricultural production and food abundance is obvious. On another hand, systematic ecological activities in our country become new growth factor of national economy, a foundation for transit to fundamentally new model of natural management in the scales of entire national economy.

Stoking up of strategic reserve of water is one of the goals of unique project in the country – the construction of Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake in Karakums, which already makes positive effect on environment including the increment of biodiversity. Various fish species have been put in its channels while reeds and tamarisk forests on the banks of waterways became the habitats for birds. Water system of the lake will make positive effect on the mitigation of adverse climate of the desert.

Prevention of pollution of Amudarya River is one of important objectives of construction of Turkmen Lake. This unique project is very important for entire Central Asia. Its implementation will not just open new opportunities and horizons for development of agriculture and water management of our country but will also make positive effect of the ecology of entire region.

According to local and foreign specialists, high profitability of the project of Turkmen Lake has no doubts. Moreover, its economic impact will be growing with time being as operation of this aquatic facility will be related to the reduction of big expenses for organization of optimum water mode in agriculture, saving and increment of natural reserves.

Integrated system of state support of agricultural complex has been formed up under the reforms in Turkmenistan. Investments to modernization of the infrastructure, technical rearmament of agriculture and service branches including the construction of processing facilities, plants for production of mineral fertilizers are the main elements of the state support. Significant money are allocated for irrigation and improvement of lands, development of sciences, selection and seed production.

Outcomes of the last grain harvest campaign, during which more than 1,650,000 tons of wheat have been produced, were practical result of these efforts. This is enough to provide the country with bread. In addition, Turkmenistan has an opportunity to export the excess of food grain for several years already.

Versatile potential of Turkmen agricultural industry was presented at Caspian Exhibition of Innovative Technologies, which was held in Avaza National tourist zone. The visitors were able to see the achievements of agriculture and water management of the country, qualitative production and successful work in environment protection, results of important projects, which have been successfully realized and are currently under implementation under ecological policy.

It is worth mentioning that at present time, Turkmen goods are sold at the exchange trades and exported to more than 40 states of the world including to USA, China, Russia, Great Britain, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Turkey, Bangladesh and other countries.

Cotton fibre, lamb, goat and came wool, licorice and other agricultural production of agricultural complex of our country, which attracts foreign clients with exceptional quality and competiveness, are on high demands in foreign countries.

High mechanization and automation of work is the main aspect of improvement of efficiency of agricultural production. Targeted measures in this sphere allowed improving the authority of our agricultural workers, attracting young personnel and improving the occupancy of the population. New modern equipment, which is taken to the fields during wheat and cotton harvest and sowing campaigns like John Deere W450, TUCANO 430 (CLAAS), John Deere 9970 harvesters, ploughing and multi-purpose tractors as well as ploughs, seeders and others, are a great support for agrarians.

It is worth reminding that the contracts with Umax Trade GmbH (Germany) and John Deere International GmbH (Switzerland) for procurement of big lots of agricultural equipment and machinery with the term of staged delivery to Turkmenistan in 2017 – 2020 have been signed according to the Resolution of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

In addition, cotton harvesters and specialized equipment designated for removal of unopened cotton bolls from the fields and extraction of the fibre are procured from Uzbekistan under big contracts signed with Uzagrotechsanoatholding Joint Venture.

Virgin land massifs of lands are developed in all velayats of the country these days. In addition to wheat and cotton, the fields are allocated for plantation of potato, beetroot, rice, corn, pea, sesame, barley, millet, other vegetable, grain and cucurbitaceous crops. New gardens and vine yards are planted. All of these require permanent improvement of the level of technical provision of agriculture and provide the demand on modern equipment, mechanization means and automation of certain technological processes.

Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Turkmenistan and John Deere International Gmbh on development of cooperation in agricultural spheres has been signed in November 2018. This document proposes further expansion of cooperation with American partners.

It includes such direction such implementation of the system of digital electronic management of the sphere, latest technologies and innovations, supplementation of technical fleet with new models of high technological agricultural equipment and machinery.

New multifunctional tractors John Deere 619 M equipped with telemetric systems are tested at the cotton fields of some farming associations of Ahal Velayat. These machines can be used in the fields for land cultivation and care of the crops as well as for loading and offloading, transport works.

This is the stage when ‘smart’ agriculture starts after the installation of sensors transmitting he information about condition of soil and plantations by radio channels and reception units on agricultural equipment.

Continuing the subject, it is worth mentioning that good harvest is provided by the use of high quality species of agricultural crops, which are resistant to diseases and pests and adapted to local soil and climate conditions.

The input of Turkmen agrarian scientists, personnel of scientific and research centres of agricultural universities, which objectives include selection and seed production work, improvement of agricultural equipment, cultivation of various crops including the test of innovative technologies in agricultural melioration, analysis of the efficiency of all activities, is quite significant.

Dozens of high production species of different agricultural crops, which have been introduced in the fields of the country including soft wheat Turkmenbashy, Bitarap, Lebap 1, Eloten 1, eloten 3, Miras, Garashsyzlyk, Berkarar, Bagtiyarly, Dovletly, hard species like Turkmenbashy 1, Akbas as well as Bereket rice, Sona barley, Paytagt and Lachyn corn are in the collection of tukmen selectionists.

Good emergence in local natural and climate conditions, high productivity, strength, length and purity of fibre are the main criteria put by local selectionists to cotton species. As is known, medium fibre cotton is traditionally cultivated in all regions of the country. The preference is given to such varieties as Yoloten 7, Dashoguz 120, Dashoguz 144, Serdar, C 4727, Yoloten 39, Jeyhun, C 2606. Following soil and climate conditions, fine fibre cotton species, especially Yoloten 14, are grown in Ahal and Mary Velayats.

This year, 550 thousand hectares have been allocated for the cotton. In total, it is planned to produce 1,050,000 tons of cotton. In addition, private agricultural producers, who received land plots from special agricultural land fund, have started cultivation of this crop on 25,567 hectares for the first time.

The work for optimization of use of agricultural lands is continued. According to the Resolution of the Head of the State, the land, which are planned to be sown with the wheat for next year harvest, would be reduced from 760,000 to 690,000 hectares. The lands released from winter crops will be given for the cotton.

The state procurement prices for wheat have been increased two times this year. At the same time, the farmers have a minimum rent price for land and they are released from taxation. Provision with equipment, seeds, mineral fertilizers, water and other services are also provided to the tenants and farming associations on beneficial terms. therefore, more than half of expenses of wheat producers are covered by the state.

In addition, new higher prices for cotton and silk cocoons taking into account their characteristics have been introduced. It is worth mentioning that rural residents are involved in silk production together with cotton and wheat growing. The silk worm is given for free and tenants do not pay anything for the forage.

Mulberry plantations grow every year in the regions. The trees are panted around the fields, which serves as good protection of the crops from winds and supports the strengthening of the banks of irrigation canals.

Thus, doing this business is very profitable from all points of view. This season, silk producers of the country have successfully fulfilled their contractual obligations on production of silk cocoons, having produced more than 2,262 tons of valuable raw material for textile industry.

Agricultural industrial clusters including livestock and poultry complexes, facilities for processing of agricultural commodities and hothouse complexes where advanced practice is taken as a base and modern technologies are implemented, are opened in all velayats under realization of the state import substitution and export increment programmes.

Facilities making meat, dairy and bakery production and other food items are opened systematically. Representatives of private sector of the economy, who successfully implement big investment projects in the above-mentioned fields, take an active part in this large-scale work.

Agricultural complex, which construction has started in Ahal Velayat last February, can be brought as an example. It includes the plant for annual production of 360,000 tons of beef and lamb, which would allow making export supplies of these meat products. The farm for fish breeding and processing with production output of 240 tons per year will be built. It will have the workshops for provision of full cycle of fish breeding, cutting workshop from where semi-finished products will be delivered to further processing.

The complex will include the facility for production of canned food including juices, jams, frozen berries as well as winery, which will process the grapes growing in Gyoktepe etrap.

It is planned to build four hothouses on 170 hectares where lemons, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetable and cucurbitaceous crops will be grown. It is also planned to enter into the contract with farmers and entrepreneurs for full load of production capacities of agricultural complex. The farmers will be provided with seeding materials and their production will be bought.

In general, the efficiency of measures taken for implementation of the State Programme of import substitutive production in Turkmenistan are visually illustrated by the data of the State Statistic Committee, according to which the volumes of production of flour, bread, bakery, meat, dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables are growing stably.

Share of non-governmental sector in agricultural production is more than 90 percent in general. Import of food products has been significantly reduced while their export, especially fruits and vegetables, has been increased.

Activation of agricultural business was mainly promoted by beneficial bank loans granted to farming associations, joint ventures and scientific and research institutes, tenants, private entrepreneurs and other agricultural producers.

Thus, in 2018, total volume of credits for expansion of facilities for export production and import substitutive goods has grown by 10.2 percent in government and by more than 20 percent in private sector comparing with the same period of 2017. This indicator was around 10 and 14.8 percent respectively in the first half of 2019.

According to the decisions of the People’s Council and Resolutions of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, it is planned to carry out staged privatization of farms with livestock, sheep, camels, birds of livestock farms and to allocate the land plots to new tenants.

Four livestock complexes, which are under construction in Ahal, Lebap and Mary Velayats, have been handed over to private ownership to members of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the subcontractors of these facilities, this year. Poultry complexes of the Ministry of Agriculture and natural Protection, which has been built earlier in Balkan and Mary Velayats, have been privatized by direct sale to the members of the UIET.

Solution of the issues of development of national agricultural complex is directly related to social objectives. This is visually indicated by National Programme of improvement of social and living conditions of rural population until 2020, owing to which it was not only production sphere but also social infrastructure received new impulse for development.

This is indicated by new settlements, which appeared on the map of the country on the last years. These are Bagtiyar Zaman in Dashoguz Velayat, berkarar Zaman in Lebap Velayat, Dovletly Zaman in Mary Velayat as well as Bereketly Zaman in Ahal Velayat.

Ground breaking ceremony of social and production complex in Serdar etrap, Balkan Velayat in the area of Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake, which was held with participation of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, is among remarkable events of this year.

Construction of new modern villages on the bank of unique lake in the centre of endless Karakums will give an impulse to the development of desert, will allow developing livestock and agricultural farming and fishery. The Concept of development of Altyn Asyr Lake region in 2018 – 2025, which phased realization provides an exclusive importance not only from economic but also from ecological point of view, is aimed at this.

In general, the creation of big artificial water reserve in the Karakum Desert, has fundamentally improved the conditions of irrigated lands in all regions, solved many problems related to the soil salinization, swamping and drought.

This project received high appraisal of wide international community, which sees it as a significant input of Turkmenistan to the improvement of ecological situation in Central Asia.

New villages will be built in Charjow, Sayat, Khalach and Kery etraps of Lebap Velayat as well as in Gyokdepe, Ak Bugday and Kaahka etraps, Ahal Velayat under the Programme of social and economic development of the country in 2019 – 2025. This is just a small part of new constructions, which will be built in the regions in the next 7 years.

Together with further improvement of the potential of agricultural complex, state support of its innovative development, the opening of new villages will support successful implementation of objectives for creation of solid base of economic prosperity of Turkmenistan and improvement of well-being of the population.