Farmers and agribusinesses across Uzbekistan will receive more technical and financial support, leading to the creation of thousands of new and better jobs, thanks to the Additional Financing Horticulture Development Project approved yesterday by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.
The Project will expand access to domestic and global markets and improve the productivity of Uzbekistan’s horticulture sector, with a US$ 500 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Uzbekistan is implementing transformational reforms, moving from a state-driven development model to a private sector-led economy, and agriculture is playing a critical role. In 2016, agriculture accounted for 17% of gross domestic product, 15% of export revenues, and over one-third of employment.
“Agriculture and rural development are at the heart of the transformation underway in Uzbekistan and the shift to horticulture is a big part of the state investment strategy,” said Hideki Mori, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan. “The Government recognizes the need for diversification of agricultural production from cotton into higher value-added production and processing, including fruits and vegetables and livestock, which will lead to better-paid jobs in rural areas, food security, and exports.”
The country’s horticulture sub-sector is an especially important source of all-season employment in rural areas and provides a significant number of jobs for women. Moreover, horticultural crops generate significantly higher revenues for farmers than wheat and cotton. Fruit and vegetable production accounts for as much as 50% of the value of crop output and over 35% of agriculture export value.
The initial Horticulture Development Project (US$150 million), approved in 2014, focused on addressing constraints in the sector. The Additional Financing will build upon the success of the original Project – which as of the end of 2017 included 223 sub-loans issued across the country– by providing additional funding to farmers, private enterprises, agri-firms and agri-processing enterprises.
The Project will improve access to financial services for farmers across Uzbekistan, and support the purchase of seeds and seedlings, water-saving irrigation technologies (such as drip irrigation), cold storage facilities, and processing equipment. The Project will also provide support to research institutes on new horticulture production techniques, storage methods, post-harvest handling, marketing and business management knowledge.
The World Bank is helping Uzbekistan to reach a wide range of development goals by supporting 16 projects worth US$ 2 billion. These projects support agriculture and water resources management, energy, transport, healthcare, education, urban development, water supply and sanitation.