Uzbekistan plans to provide subsidies for storing potatoes to reduce its imports


Uzbekistan plans to provide subsidies for storing potatoes to reduce its imports

04/24/2020

Lack of assets for storing potatoes is one of the problems of potato growers in Uzbekistan

According to EastFruit price monitoring, the average wholesale price for potatoes in Uzbekistan has risen sharply lately. At the end of the previous week, it reached 60 US cents per kg for the potato crop of 2019 and 96 US cents per kg for the early potato crop of 2020.

Such a high level of prices, according to EastFruit analysts, is due to two factors: the rush of potato purchases by the population due to quarantine and the sharp expansion of the area under potatoes for the 2020 crop both by the population of Uzbekistan and farmers. Moreover, this approach also stimulates the state, which recently recently threatened with fines for those who, having land in use, would not use it for growing vegetables, fruits and potatoes.

Potatoes for residents of Uzbekistan are considered the second bread. However, its production in the country continues to be insufficient to meet the needs of the population. Therefore, every year the country imports more than 200 thousand tons of marketable potatoes and up to 35 thousand tons of seed potatoes. Recently, the growth trend in imports of marketable potatoes has accelerated. According to preliminary estimates, in 2019, more than 240 thousand tons of tubers were imported – 8% more than a year earlier.

See also: Losses of sweet cherry harvest from frost in Uzbekistan reach 15-20%, but apple harvest was not affected

According to official statistics, potatoes are imported mainly from Kazakhstan and Pakistan. However, in supermarket chains, as a rule, potatoes are sold in the original packaging of large Russian producers.

Minister of Agriculture of Uzbekistan Hamshid Khozhayev in a recent interview for Kun.uz said that the government is considering subsidizing those potato growers and intermediaries who store tubers, because, according to him, the lack of interest in storing potatoes is the main problem to fully ensure their own population local products.

However, according to the economist of the investment department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Andrei Yarmak, the main problem is the competitiveness of Uzbek producers. “The main problem of Uzbek potato growing is the limited ability to produce its own high-quality potato seeds for climatic reasons. Even in mountainous regions, it is difficult to find the necessary climatic conditions and sufficient areas. Therefore, you have to constantly import imported seed material of potatoes, which immediately lays the very high cost of the final product. As a result, Russian or Kazakh marketable potatoes are cheaper than local ones, especially in the season of their mass supply, ”notes Andrei Yarmak.

He also draws attention to windows of opportunity for Uzbek potato growers. “The possibility of getting early potatoes in April and even earlier in the conditions of Uzbekistan is a great advantage for the country. After all, this potato can be harvested in a phase when a dense peel is not yet formed, and sold as “young potato” for export to Russia and other countries. Such potatoes are in high demand and sold in a completely different price category than “old potatoes”, that is, last year’s crop products. Moreover, the price difference can be 1000% and this does not significantly affect the level of demand, since these are completely different goods. Having earned by exporting expensive early potatoes, you can afford to import significantly larger volumes of late potatoes from the same countries, ”says the FAO economist.

So far, Uzbekistan exports only insignificant volumes of early potatoes to Russia and Kazakhstan (about 0.5 thousand tons in total), without fully taking advantage of the early season. At the same time, Russia annually imports up to 300 thousand tons of potatoes in the spring only from Egypt, as well as up to 100 thousand tons of early potatoes from Iran, Azerbaijan and Pakistan.

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