Turkmenistan is known worldwide for its huge oil and gas reserves, however it is not the only resource which brings the country most of its income.
One of the primary exports items of Turkmenistan has traditionally been cotton. Cotton is equalized to gold as it is widely used in various industrial branches, including textile, food, medical and some other industries.
The Central Asian country of over 5.6 million people is among the top 10 producers of cotton and its high quality, fine-fiber “white gold” is in great demand. The country invests millions of dollars into the sector to further develop the cotton industry and create textile plants.
During the Soviet Union times, Turkmenistan’s agriculture was characterized by the monoculture of cotton. The country ranked second after Uzbekistan in cotton production among the six cotton republics of the former Soviet Union. The situation began to change rapidly after 1990, when the government started stimulating wheat production in order to achieve a higher degree of national food self-sufficiency.
However, despite this relative decline of cotton production, Turkmenistan ranks ninth largest cotton producer after China, India, the United States, Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Australia.
Almost half of all irrigated lands in the country or 545,000 hectares have been allocated for cotton-growing in Turkmenistan in 2017. The country is expected to produce 1.05 million tons of cotton in 2017. Currently, it is the harvest time in the country.
Although Turkmenistan lies along the eastern coastline of the Caspian Sea, the country’s four inner-most regions are where cotton growing is the most prominent. Mary and Lebap regions produce about 313,000 and 300,000 tons of cotton, respectively. The south-central Akhal region, in which the country’s capital of Ashgabat is located, produces about 207,000 tons, while Dashoguz brings in around 230,000.
Although agriculture accounts for only about 9% of the country’s GDP, the sector continues to employ nearly half of the country’s workforce, with the two largest crops grown being cotton and wheat.
The country supplies cotton to China, Russia, the UK, South Korea, Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, Singapore, Ukraine and Baltic countries. Cotton products are sold through auctions in Turkmenistan’s commodity and raw materials exchange.
Over 20 textile firms with predominantly Turkish partners currently operate in the country.
Under the State Program for development of the textile industry for 2011-2020, by 2020 the government plans to increase investments in the textile industry to $2 billion. This will include both upgrading existing facilities and building new ones.
The plan calls for increasing the number of employees in the industry from almost 30,000 in 2013 to 36,000 in 2020. This expansion is expected to allow the processing of nearly 230,000 tons of cotton per year and to expand annual export revenues by $350 million.
In 2017, Turkmenistan plans to harvest 1,05 million tons of cotton, particularly in Akhal velayat – 207,000 tons, in Dashoguz velayat – 230,000 tons, in Lebap velayat – 300, 000 tons, in Mary velayat – 313 ,000 tons.
The total area of land, allotted for cotton, is 545,000 hectares. In spring, they were sowed with medium- and finely-fibred varieties of cotton – “133”, “Yoloten-7”, “Dashoguz-120”, “Serdar”, “C-4727”, “Yoloten-39”, “Yoloten-14”, etc. For the new harvest of cotton, 152 commodity points and 38 country’s cotton gin plants have been prepared. (AzerNews/Business World Magazine)