European Union would like to strengthen its partnership with Uzbekistan and provide assistance to help accelerate sector reforms and modernise the economy. Agriculture is a critically important sector for the economic and social development of the country. The draft Strategy recently published by the government for public consultation provides a clear roadmap that, when officially adopted and implemented, will allow the government to create new and improved public services to the sector, and to provide farmers and agri-businesses with the support and freedom they need to develop their businesses. It shall position Uzbekistan as one of the leading producers and exporters of high-value agri-food products in Central Asia.
In publishing this draft strategy, the government has further reiterated its on-going commitment and dedication to bringing real and lasting change to the agriculture sector of the country. If this draft strategy is adopted in its current form, it will ensure that the wave of reforms and liberalization measures that have already been introduced since early 2017, under the leadership of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, will be maintained and extended. The EU stands ready to support this process and we congratulate the President and his team for this bold initiative and eagerly await its formal approval.
The strategy outlines a plan for the gradual transition from the historical focus on the production of cotton and wheat to the production of alternative crops in which Uzbekistan has a comparative advantage, such as in the production of certain high value horticulture products which can be exported to both traditional markets and extended to other fast-growing markets in Asia and the EU. To meet the demands of these new export markets requires significant restructuring and development of both public and private sector agri-food support services and systems from farm to fork.
If successful, this transformation will contribute significantly to the protection of the country's natural resources by reducing the reliance on water intensive crops like cotton and wheat. Diversification into higher value crops will also help to improve rural livelihoods throughout the country.