Central Asia Insights: The Agriculture

In this series of insights into the Central Asian region, Centil aims to provide investors with a snapshot of the development and state of various spheres of interest. These snapshots usually include a collection of relevant facts and figures, with a small amount of concise analysis. In certain instances, we provide more in-depth discussion when the information and conclusions require.

KEY AGRICULTURE INDICATORS

The Central Asian (CA) region is nestled between Asia and Europe and is made up of relatively small countries that have an abundance of high-priced natural resources, such as oil and gas (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan),  gold (Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan), aluminium (Tajikistan), uranium and numerous other metals.

Moreover, the CA countries have high literacy rates and reasonably good healthcare systems, both of which are primarily financed by the state. The countries have also built sophisticated infrastructures that enable them to capitalise on their strategic location.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, CA embarked on market-oriented economic reforms, becoming one of the fastest growing regions globally from an economic perspective. At present, whilst some are still in a transition period, CA economies are more aligned with the more market based economies found elsewhere around the world.

The total land area of the CA region is 3.9 million km2, representing 3% of the world’s dry land mass. Of this area, Kazakhstan represents 69%, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan together represent 23%, and the two smallest countries - Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan –  make up 8%. In addition, 9.6% of this land is arable, which is slightly lower than the world average of 10.9%. Although Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have done well at cultivating their land, with their share of arable land keeping up with the world average, the share of permanent cropland lags way behind the world average in all CA countries. The leaders in terms of the proportion of permanent cropland are Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, two traditionally sedentary societies, with 1% and 0.9% respectively (Table 1).

The distribution of the 68 million people living in the CA countries is also uneven: Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are the most populous countries, together comprising 72% of the CA population. However, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan score the highest in CA when it comes to population density, whilst Kazakhstan’s population density is way below the world average.

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