Turkmenistan’s agricultural sector overregulated by the state, needs economic freedom

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — In late May, for the second time in recent months, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov criticized Deputy Prime Minister overseeing agriculture Esenmyrat Orazgeldiev and highlighted that reforms in the country’s agricultural sector were being implemented at an extremely low pace, the Chronicles of Turkmenistan independent website reported.

The President also expressed discontent with the performance of daikhans (farmers) and mentioned that “despite the available opportunities and favourable conditions that are being created to ensure productive labour of daikhans, reforms in the Turkmen agricultural sector are progressing extremely slowly”.

“The daikhan’s associations, many of which make losses, are the main suppliers of agricultural produce in the country. Labour efficiency of entrepreneurs in rural areas is 3-4 times higher than that of ordinary daikhans,” the President said.

Apart from daikhan associations (collective farms) there are private associations of farmers, the so-called entrepreneurs. They work more efficiently as they can choose what crops to grow and are entitled to apply for loans, the Chronicles of Turkmenistan notes.

Recently the number of rural entrepreneurs has been on the rise. In 2016 Turkmenistan: Golden Age state information agency reported that the number of daikhan’s association increased by 10% in 2015 and the number of private farms increased by 30%.

The number of collective farmers willing to lease out the state land to grow crops is decreasing, since it is the government who decides what crops and what volumes should be grown by farmers, prevents the latter from selling the yield, buys harvested crops at low prices and imposes penalties for failure to fulfill the state plan.

For this reason the local authorities urge public sector employees to lease out the available plots of land. For instance, Radio Azatlyk reported that the authorities of Balkan velayat (province) had urged principals of schools located in Serdar (formerly Gyzylarbat), Bereket (Gazanzhyk) and Magtymguly (Garrygala) to rent state-owned plots of land to be subsequently leased out to teachers.

Sergey Kwan

TCA