AGRICULTURAL COMPLEX: INNOVATION COURSE
The recent sixth working meeting of the steering committee of the European Union funded project SARD III "Support to Further Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Turkmenistan" clearly demonstrated the intensity of use of advanced technological recommendations in agriculture of Turkmenistan.
The SARD III project aims at stimulating small and medium-sized businesses in the agro-industrial complex, introducing international standards and advanced technologies in accordance with Turkmenistan's Socio-Economic Development Program for 2019-2025.
Project specialists briefed the participants on the upcoming activities, including the provision of technical support to the manufacturers of horticultural, vegetable, fish, dairy products, greenhouses, etc., as well as consultancies for beginner exporters on proper strategies to get access to foreign markets.
The meeting brought together the project leaders from Turkmenistan and the EU, representatives of the ministries of agriculture and environmental protection, healthcare and medical industry, as well as the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. It reviewed the progress achieved by the project over six months from the last working meeting held in March of the current year. The meeting also discussed the progress in development of manuals on exports of agricultural products, efficient water use and introduction of water-saving technologies.
It was noted that the project also supported the work on enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of the agro-food sector through activities aimed at improving production, processing and marketing, as well as strengthening the capacity of supporting public sector agricultural institutions.
The meeting participants emphasized that the SARD III project, which responds to the tasks facing the agro-industrial complex, has accelerated the transition of Turkmenistan's agriculture to the standards adopted by the European countries and contributed to increasing agricultural exports.
The above example is only a small fraction of the general picture of the ongoing transformations in the agricultural system of Turkmenistan. This is no coincidence. It is in line with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov's state policy that prioritized the intensive development of the agro-industrial complex, which is directly related to ensuring the country's food independence and high quality of life. In this area, large-scale transformations have been successfully carried out with the view of improving the efficiency of agriculture and increasing the output of various agricultural products.
The Program of the President of Turkmenistan on the Socio-Economic Development of the country for 2019-2025 has kick started the next phase of multilevel reforms, modernization and diversification of all sectors of the national economy, including the agro-industrial sector.
Comprehensive measures are being taken to address the problems relating to the further improvement of management and structural reform of agriculture, establishment of new economic relations in the countryside, the efficient use of land and water resources, increasing soil fertility and crop yields, introducing advanced technologies and latest scientific and technical solutions.
As part of the large-scale transformations carried out in the agricultural sector, Turkmenistan has created an integrated system of state support for the agro-industrial complex. One of its major components provides for investments to ensure modernization of infrastructure, technical re-equipment of agriculture and servicing industries, including construction of processing plants and mineral fertilizer plants. Turkmenistan allocates significant financial resources for irrigation and land reclamation, development of science, selection and seed growing.
The successful last harvest campaign with the total yield of 1.650 million tons of wheat was also the practical result of these efforts. The government procurement prices for wheat were doubled this year. At the same time, the minimum land rent was established for farmers. Machinery, seeds, mineral fertilizers, irrigation water and other types of services are also provided to farmers and daikhan associations on preferential terms. So, more than half of the costs of grain growers are now subsidized by the state.
The diverse potential of the Turkmen agricultural industry was presented at the Caspian Exhibition of Innovative Technologies that became one of the important events of the first Caspian Economic Forum at the National Tourism Zone "Avaza". Visitors had the opportunity to get acquainted with Turkmenistan's achievements in agriculture and water management, high-quality products and ongoing work in the field of environmental protection.
The successful implementation of the national agrarian policy was noted at the regular meeting of the CIS Intergovernmental Coordinating Council on Seed Growing that was held in Ashgabat in May of the current year under Turkmenistan's chairmanship of the CIS.
Turkmenistan continues the work to optimize the use of agricultural lands. In accordance with the resolution signed by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, the area of land to be sown with wheat for the next year's crop will be reduced from 760 to 690 thousand hectares. The harvest of wheat will be reduced to 1.400 million. The lands spared from winter grains will be allocated for cotton growing.
The agribusiness intensification was largely facilitated by preferential bank loans granted to daikhan associations and farms, agricultural joint-stock companies and research institutes, farmers, private entrepreneurs and other agricultural producers.
As a whole, the effectiveness of measures taken to implement the State Program for Import-Substituting Products in Turkmenistan is clearly illustrated by the data released by the State Statistics Committee. According to it, production of flour, bread and bakery products, meat, milk, eggs, vegetables and melons is steadily increasing. The private sector share in the agricultural production averages over 90 percent. Imports of food products decreased significantly, while exports of primarily fruits and vegetables increased.
So, one can confidently talk about the continuity and dynamism of the transformation process taking place in the national agro-industrial sector.