Uzbekistan Leads Central Asian States by Wheat Yield


May 29, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

Wheat is a significant food crop in Uzbekistan, with a total area of 1.4 million ha and an average grain yield of 45 centners per ha. Uzbekistan’s average Wheat yield reached 64 centners per hectare in 2021; it was planned to get 70 centners per hectare last year. This increase in productivity is associated with an increase in the area of land allocated for cultivating new varieties.  Uzbekistan has a land area of 44.8 million hectares, of which 4.5 million hectares is arable. Its primary cultivated crops include cotton, Wheat, Barley, rice, corn, potatoes, and fruits and vegetables.

While Uzbekistan was part of the Soviet Union, about 70% of its land was devoted to cotton production, with fodder crops grown in rotation to support livestock production. Wheat was mostly imported from other regions of the Soviet Union, with local production meeting only 20% of domestic demand, according to a report from the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

Wheat represents 90% of cereal production, the rest being rice, rye, and Barley. To improve the country’s food security, the Government has continued to emphasize Wheat production and supported poultry and animal farming over the last several years. In 2022-25, the Government will offer small family farms 10-year leases on 200,000 hectares of cotton and grain land transferred from large farms and clusters, according to the International Trade Administration (ITA). 

Around 70% of Wheat is cultivated in irrigated production systems in rotation with cotton, maize, rice, and other summer crops, including legumes and vegetables. Rainfed production areas are situated in the foothills of Turkestan and Gissar Ranges of the Tien-Shan Mountains, primarily in Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, and Surkhandarya Regions, with precipitation ranging from 250 to 500 mm depending on the altitude.

Lack of irrigation water, other inputs, and high temperatures represent major constraints for irrigated Wheat production, whereas drought, cold, and heat are the principal abiotic stresses limiting Wheat yield in rainfed production. Wheat diseases and pests substantially reduce grain productivity requiring the application of crop protection chemicals.

Stripe rust represents a significant challenge for Wheat production under irrigated and rainfed conditions reducing the grain yield by 16–24% in susceptible cultivars. Until recently, Wheat cultivars grown in Uzbekistan were mainly imported as seed from Russia and occupied substantial areas of the country. However, high yielding and responsive to irrigation and other inputs, Russian cultivars were late maturing and susceptible to stripe rust.

Developing and promoting new winter Wheat cultivars in Uzbekistan, combining good local adaptation, disease resistance, and grain quality, represent an important strategic component for national food security.

Consumption of bread and other Wheat products in Uzbekistan is one of the highest in the world and exceeds 200 kg per person per year. Despite substantial production gains in Wheat, the country still depends on imports equivalent to 15–20% of its crop production to meet the growing demand for grain.

The processing industry recognizes the low quality of local Wheat, but the land use policy prioritizes production quantity, so Wheat of better quality is imported to improve flour. Naan is a staple food of nearly all Uzbeks, but the low gluten and high starch content typical of domestically grown Wheat makes it less desirable for baking naan. As a result, tandoor bakers have been vital demand drivers for Kazakhstan flour and Wheat.

Barley Import in Uzbekistan

In 2021, Uzbekistan imported Barley worth $12.6 million, becoming the world’s 51st largest importer of Barley. In the same year, Barley was Uzbekistan’s 310th most imported product. Uzbekistan imports Barley primarily from: Kazakhstan ($12.6 million) and Russia ($16.9k).

Other sources: SPRINGER

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