Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Still more ag news, this time from Tajikistan

Here are the first paragraphs of the NYTimes story written by David Stern. Here's the lede:
Farhod, a farmer in this dusty southwestern spit of land pushed up against the Afghan and Uzbek borders, said that he had committed a subversive and potentially punishable act this growing season. He planted watermelons in addition to the usual cotton.
* * *

He fears the authorities will destroy his crop, even though they had assured him that he could plant whatever he wanted this year.

The problem, as Stern explains, is that cotton is the proverbial king of Tajik agriculture, and the government pressures farmers to grow it, employing a "complex system of debts and obligations" that is reminiscent of feudalism. The problems created by this government priority are currently aggravated because, following on a summer with little rainfall, Central Asia is likely to face food shortages this winter.

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