Friday, October 28, 2005
More on Cotton in Central Asia
One thing that is apparent is that cotton production in Central Asia reached its peak in the 1980s. Total production in Central Asia and Azerbaijan has gone from over 3.2 million metric tons in 1980 to a little more than 1.7 million in 2004. Twenty five years ago this region accounted for almost a quarter of all the world's cotton. Today it only produces 7%. For Uzbekistan and Tajikistan there has not been much to replace it as a source of revenue. Uzbekistan now exports some wheat and Tajikistan has aluminium and hydro power. But, increasingly these two countries along with Kyrgyzstan have been exporting labor to Russia and Kazakhstan. There are now an estimated one million Tajik citizens currently working in Russia out of a total population of less than six and a half million people. The economies of Kazakhstan and Russia are currently doing very well in comparison to their southern neighbors as a result of the export of oil. It looks like migrant workers will replace cotton as Central Asia's most important export. This will not be the first time in history that such a shift has taken place.