Meeting of Agriculture & Food Processing Subcommittee

A meeting between members of the Agriculture & Food Processing Subcommittee and representatives from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) was held at the AmCham office on 11 April 2017. Chairman Dale Henry welcomed participants and special IFC guests who were here to brief the committee on Sustainable Development, and the Cotton Value Chain project in Uzbekistan.

Following the meeting was an in-depth presentation on the Cotton Value Chain project by Oksana Varodi, an IFC representative with 15 years of experience. According to Ms Varodi, the project aims to bring Environmental, Social and Financial Sustainability to Uzbekistan’s Cotton Value Chain. In order to meet these goals, a package of productivity improvements will be introduced, including industry best practices from the United States and elsewhere.
Uzpakhtasanoat Export Holding is the key national level partner to IFC acting in a consulting role for the project. The Ministry of Labor, Trade Unions, local district government (“Hokimiyat”), Agriculture Department, and Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources will promote the Project at lower levels.

The Project’s pilot phase lasts from January 2017 through 2018. This will be followed by rolling out the project to all regions of Uzbekistan from 2019 – 2022.

Initial project milestones include a manual harvest in Fergana Region consisting of six farms. A standardized crop with realistic labor prices will result in an economic advantage among the population in this part of Uzbekistan. Further plans include a mechanized harvest at four farms in Djizzak region, as well as the attainment of targeted gains and national level project marketing.

Joachim Lenz, a German Agronomist, Farmer, and Organic Certification Auditor, also contributed to the meeting. His expertise and experience proved invaluable to the discussion. His highlights included activities of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), particularly on experiences in neighboring countries: Tajikistan, through GIZ, using non-GMO cotton seed from Turkey; and Kazakhstan, through private networks.

BCI follows a stepped registration process, starting with only minimum requirements in the first year, and additional improvement requirements for the subsequent 3 year period. This stepped approach makes it easier for producers and processors to meet standards over time.

By 2020, the BCI market is expected to include 30% of world cotton production. In the past, BCI has not been able to meet with international development organizations in Uzbekistan, however, indications now are that the country wants to penetrate this market.

At the end of the meeting, members shared their remarks and insights on the cotton industry within Uzbekistan and were able to discuss important issues with the visiting representatives.