IFPRI Central Asia Weekly News Digest (May 23 – May 29, 2018)


by Jarilkasin Ilyasov | May 30, 2018

It's raining salt: toxic Aral Sea storm sparks health fears in Central Asia
Radio Free Europe's Uzbek service reports that parts of western Uzbekistan and northern Turkmenistan are recovering from a severe salt storm that is believed to have originated in dried areas formerly part of the Aral Sea. The three-day storm started on May 26 and covered fields with a mixture of salt and sand. While salt storms are not uncommon in the Aral Sea area, the scale of this week's event was larger than usual. - Radio Free Europe

Uzbekistan to reduce area of rice fields due to water problems
Land allocated to rice will be reduced from 162,000 to 94,000 hectares due to water shortages, following a video conference chaired by Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev. According to participants at the meeting, precipitation has fallen short of averages, necessitating a switch to water-sparing crops such as beans. Rice prices increased 16.7 percent in May, owing to a combination of factors largely related to a forecasted downturn in supply. - AzerNews

Uzbekistan's sweet cherry exports triple as domestic prices soar
Uzbekistan has quadrupled its earnings from cherry exports in the first four months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Uzbekistan has exported more than 9,000 tons of sweet cherries, marking a tripling in volume from last year's figure of 3,100 tons from January to April. New export markets such as the UAE and South Korea account for a large portion of the increase. Uzbek cherries also appear to on the verge of breaking into the Chinese market: a protocol was signed in July 2017 to arrange inspections and quality control. Chinese companies expressed readiness to purchase approximately 5,000 tons of cherries at a recent diplomatic event at the Uzbek embassy in China. - Tashkent Times, MENAFN

Russian consulting company will assist Uzbekistan in agriculture development strategy
Strategy Partners Group, a Russian consulting firm, will assist Uzbekistan in developing a strategy for agriculture development aimed toward 2030. According to a draft government decree by the Uzbek agriculture ministry, inefficient planning and poor execution of policies have hindered growth in the country's agricultural sector. The draft resolution calls for the completion of a draft strategy by the end of this year. - AzerNews

U.S. bans imports of slave-picked cotton from Turkmenistan
The United States has banned cotton from Turkmenistan due to findings that state-enforced slave labor is involved in its production. Evidence of forced labor has been documented by the U.S. Department of Labor and Turkmen cotton products will be prevented from entering the United States under a 2016 law banning slave-made goods. - Reuters

ADB grant to further improve transport connectivity and safety in Tajikistan
On May 28, the Asian Development Bank's Board of Directors approved a $90 million grant in additional financing toward the rehabilitation of a 40 kilometer section of the Dushanbe-Bokhtar road. The road, one of the most heavily traveled in the country, carries approximately 10,000 vehicles per day and is a critical north-south link between two major economic centers. The additional financing will widen parts of the highway and improve safety measures. - Asia-Plus

Analysis & Related Information

'The Mediterranean diet is gone': region's children are fattest in Europe
Central Asian children exhibit the lowest levels of childhood obesity in the Europe and Central Asia region, according to the latest data from the Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative of the World Health Organization. Still, Central Asia itself is undergoing a nutrition transition that in the future could produce obesity rates currently seen in Europe. For example, children in Tajikistan are reportedly consuming large quantities of sugary soft drinks. These remarks were made at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna this week, whose headline observation claimed that children in countries where the so-called Mediterranean diet originated are now more likely to consume sugary and other unhealthy foods rather than their traditional cuisine. - The Guardian

Seizing economic opportunities in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are at interesting points of their economic development, according to two analysts at a global risk management consulting firm. Uzbekistan is at what can be described as a transition phase moving toward greater openness, while Kazakhstan may have to act more quickly on reforms to encourage privatization and diversification in order to continue its long-term growth. - The Diplomat

Publications & Reports

Just like a woman? New comparative evidence on the gender income gap across Eastern Europe and Central Asia
N. Blunch (2018). Global Labor Organization. Discussion paper no. 211.

Spatial and temporal variations in extreme temperature in Central Asia
R. Feng, R. Yu, H. Zheng, M. Gan (2018). International Journal of Climatology, 38, S1, pp. 388-400.

Statistical evaluation of the dust events at selected stations in Southwest Asia: from the Caspian Sea to the Arabian Sea
A. Rashki, D. Kaskaoutis, A. Sepehr (2018). Catena, 165, pp. 590-603.

Balancing the discussion of benefit sharing in transboundary water governance: stressing the long-term costs in an empirical example from Central Asia
I. Soliev, K. Wegerich, I. Akramova, N. Mukhamedova (2018). International Journal of Water Governance, 6(2), pp. 19-42.

Events & Call for Papers

3rd Annual International Conference on Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition in Eurasia Featuring IFPRI's 2018 Global Food Policy Report
International conference and publication launch. 30 May 2018 in Moscow, Russia. The International Food Policy Research Institute is partnering with the Eurasian Center for Food Security (ECFS) at Lomonosov Moscow State University and the World Bank to launch IFPRI's 2018 Global Food Policy Report in Russia. For more information about the report, please visit the GFPR website. For conference details, please contact Jarilkasin Ilyasov at IFPRI.

International Conference on Agricultural Transformation, Food Security, and Nutrition in Central Asia Featuring IFPRI's 2018 Global Food Policy Report
International conference and publication launch. 1 June 2018 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The International Food Policy Research Institute is partnering with the Westminster International University in Tashkent (WIUT) to launch IFPRI's 2018 Global Food Policy Report in Uzbekistan. For more information about the report, please visit the GFPR website. For conference details, please contact Jarilkasin Ilyasov at IFPRI.

"Agriculture Trade and Foreign Investments for Sustainable Regional Integration in Caucasus and Central Asia" Conference
6 – 7 September 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Organized by Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economics (IAMO) and Institute of Scientific Research on Economic Reforms (ISRER). The aim of this conference is to serve as a platform to discuss options for regional integration in the Caucasus and Central Asian countries and to explore opportunities for increasing agricultural exports from the region. Researchers, public officials, and private sector partners are invited to participate. The conference will be conducted in English and Russian. Please click on the above link for further details. Abstract submission is open until 11 May 2018.





Archived issues of the news digest can be found on the Central Asia page under the ReSAKSS Asia website: http://resakss-asia.org/regions/central-asia.  A link to the newsletter can be found under Blog Posts.

The articles included in this news digest have been generated from online sources. Any opinions stated herein are not representative of, or endorsed by, the International Food Policy Research Institute or its partners.