The arrival of Chinese experts and agricultural technologies have brought hopes of higher yields, lower costs and increased income for thousands of cotton farmers in Uzbekistan.
Since 2018, the Institute of Cotton Research affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences has piloted a cotton production program in four regions of Uzbekistan, including a cotton field covering 50 hectares in Syrdarya and such fields covering a total of 18 hectares in three other regions.
Researchers for the program piloted China’s cutting-edge technologies in cotton production, including the use of mulch film, the tailored application of fertilizers based on soil conditions, green pest control technologies and drip irrigation technology.
Ma Xiongfeng, deputy head of the institute, said, “The experimentation has been a resounding success.”
He said cotton seed yield from fields in the program reached 6 metric tons per hectare, four times the local yield level.
“More important, the technology only requires one-third the amount of irrigation water normally required for local fields－significant progress for Uzbekistan, which has long faced challenges from drought,” he said.
Cotton is often referred to as Uzbekistan’s “white gold”. According to the institute, the area of land used to grow cotton in Uzbekistan accounts for two-thirds of the total in Central Asia, and 40 percent of the nation’s total farmland.
Cultivating cotton is a source of income for half the Uzbek population, and the introduction of China’s cotton varieties and planting technologies is part of broader efforts to increase yield and farmers’ incomes, Ma said.
The pilot project’s success was greeted with positive feedback from the government in Uzbekistan.
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a presidential decree in December 2018, calling for the establishment of a special committee to bring Chinese cotton planting technology to the Central Asian nation.
According to the decree, more than 10 percent of the cotton fields in Uzbekistan will adopt the technology from China.
In August 2020, the seeds of six cotton varieties developed by the institute obtained approval from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in China for exports to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Uzbekistan’s cotton yield this year has been threatened by a lingering heat wave, according to the website of the nation’s president.