CAREC Institute’s new report “Strengthening agricultural extension services in rural Uzbekistan: opportunities and alternatives,” written by Iskandar Abdullaev, Shakhboz Akhmedov, and Aziz Akkiev, discusses agricultural extension services, the role of research in the sector, and the current state of research and extension services in Uzbekistan.
The recent set of reforms in Uzbekistan extends the commercial scope of agricultural production, provides more space for farmers to produce crops of their choice, and opens markets for trading. However, agriculture requires knowledge and skillsets from farmers to understand the basic concepts necessary for better productivity; these include water management, entomology, and crop science. Also, advances in machinery have expanded the scale, speed, and productivity of farm equipment, leading to more efficient land cultivation. This requires everyone involved to be well versed in technological advancements and backed up by a sustainable infrastructure.
The current state of extension services in Uzbekistan is not sufficient to support both the increasing production of the sector and address the challenges it will face in the near future. Therefore, fresh approaches are needed, and new types of extension service must be built up, based on both public and private initiatives. The use of innovative methods such as ICT based extension services could help to improve long-term and high performing agricultural extension services. Most farmers usually lack such skills and are prepared to purchase such expertise in the market. Yet, the current agricultural services market does not have a strong extension services component.
The authors suggest supporting new alternatives to the currently diverse extension services system. Increasingly digital, commercially driven, supply-based extension services would be more durable and affordable for rural Uzbekistan. Offering incentives and support to the private sector players will bring quicker and more long-term solutions to the development of extension services.