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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Agriculture in Central Asia

Agriculture in Central Asia constitutes at least 20% of the GDP of every Central Asian country with the lone exception of Kazakhstan. Despite this, in all of the Central Asian countries, at least 20% of the labor force is employed in agriculture.

By far the two most significant crops in Central Asia are cotton and wheat. Only Kazakhstan and Mongolia do not cultivate significant amounts of cotton. This emphasis on intensive cotton cultivation in the Amu Darya watershed countries of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan has played a major role in the drying and polluting of the Aral Sea because of the large amounts of water and fertilizer used in cotton cultivation.

The cultivation of wheat has also contributed to regional environmental issues, starting with the Virgin Lands Campaign during the Soviet era. Because the precautionary measures taken to preserve soil quality when the campaign began were insufficient, the soil eroded and its nutrients became degraded by excessive mono-crop cultivation. This history continues to impact grain production today, particularly in Kazakhstan.

Aside from these two primary crops, the region produces a wide variety of products which include barley, corn, flax, grapes, potatoes, rice, sugar beets, sunflowers, tobacco, apricots, pears, plums, apples, cherries, pomegranates, melons, dates, figs, sesame, pistachios, and nuts.

Animal husbandry constitutes a large part of Central Asian agriculture. Cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, and horses are raised in the area. Some famous local breeds include the Karakul sheep and Akhal-Teke horse. Some regions also cultivate mulberry trees and silkworms.

1 comment:

Ulrike said...

hi - thank you for your interesting article.
I wonder if you would want to include some links to youtube to e. g. animals that you mention in your article so that people get a better picture of what you say?

Akhal Teke:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdsoH32Px-4

Karakul sheep
http://www.plfkarakuls.com/plfarabi.jpg

Turkmenistan
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjp7P90LWIo