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Tajikistan’s Cotton Exports Plunge 63.6%; Forced to Transition to Alternate Crops

Tajikistan’s cotton exports have struggled so much the country is essentially abandoning it as a principal crop.

Cotton was once a top export for the Central Asian country, largely dispatched to Russia, Turkey and Latvia. In 2012, cotton accounted for 18.6% of its overall exports, valued at $244.8 million. However, according to Tajikistan’s Customs Service, the first quarter of 2014 was a disaster, with the country’s cotton exports plummeting 63.6% from 87.3 million to $32.6 million.

There is no single determining factor for Tajikistan’s cotton woes. The country’s economists have attributed the collapse of the industry to a variety of causes including sustained drought, elevated international cotton prices and a lack of financing available to cotton farmers in desperate need of capital. Also, the rising costs of fertilizer and farming machinery has taken a toll. However, some of the troubles were exacerbated by the government’s decision to subsidize other crops like fruits and vegetables, decreasing the acreage available for cotton.

Qosim Qosimov, Tajikistan’s Minister of Agriculture, said that the nation is transitioning away from cotton production, which will no longer be classified as a central export. In fact, the government has not even announced a 2014 production target and plans to eventually reduce annual production to 200,000 tons.