DUSHANBE, April 5, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- Specialists from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) expect Tajik farmers to yield some 400,000 tons of raw cotton this year.

210,000 hectares have been allocated to cotton cultivation this year, which is 50,000 hectares more than last year, the source at a MoA said.  According to him, cotton farmers in Khatlon will plant cotton 130,500 hectares, Sughd province – 62,500 hectares and districts subordinate to the center – 17,000 hectares.

“Tajikistan has worked out the cotton sector development program for the period till 2014 and this program provides for annual increase in cotton production,” noted the source.  “Local farmers are interested in producing more cotton as the international cotton prices have increased.  The international price of one ton of cotton has risen from US$1,700 in early 2010 to US$5,000.”

We will recall that last year, Tajikistan yielded 310,513 tons of raw cotton, which was 10,500 tons more than it was originally planned and 3.2 percent (13,500 tons) more than in 2009.

Cotton makes an important contribution to both the agricultural sector and the national economy.  Cotton accounts for 60 percent of agricultural output, supports 75 percent of the rural population, and uses 45 percent of irrigated arable land.  At the national level, it is an important source of both export earnings and tax revenue.  Cotton fiber accounts for some 15 percent of Tajikistan’s exports.  Tajikistan is reportedly the world’s fourth largest exporter of cotton, and there is strong demand on international markets for its high quality product.

According to the Agency for Statistics under the President of Tajikistan, Tajikistan has exported 17,895 tons of cotton fiber for US$68.859 million over the first two months of this year.  Over the same period last year, Tajikistan exported 21,390 tons of cotton fiber for US$27.8959 million.