Books on Kyrgyzstan
Update No: 289 - (27/01/05)
Kyrgyzstan, like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, has experienced
varieties of the post-Soviet doldrums, with pervasive corruption, lingering
socialist-era inefficiencies, and lagging foreign investment hampering growth
and allowing poverty to keep a vice-grip on swathes of the population. It is not
a legacy to take to the hustings with any equanimity.
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has stressed his resolve to become the first
regional leader to leave power voluntarily, but spoke darkly of election-related
storm clouds gathering on the horizon in 2005. Akayev may just mean what he
says. His regime has become more and more authoritarian with time. But he has
his Western admirers, notably Aslund Anders, the author of Building Capitalism,
a treatise on the transition from socialism to capitalism, that singles out
Kyrgyzstan for high praise for its reform effort. Aslund Anders is a
long-standing consultant to Bishkek, as he was to Yeltsin's Russia.
Opponents hold four days of protests; Supreme Court upholds ban on former
It may not be a Rose or Orange Revolution, but Kyrgyzstan's opposition activists
say their four-day protest in defence of former diplomats' right to run for
parliament is a sign that voters will hold the government to its promise of a
free and fair vote in February 27th's parliamentary poll.
Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court on 14 January upheld a regional court's verdict
preventing a former Kyrgyz ambassador from competing for a seat in the country's
parliament in February. A Sokuluk regional court had ruled that former
Ambassador to Turkey Medetkan Sherimkulov is ineligible for the legislative
elections because he has not resided in Kyrgyzstan for each of the last five
Sherimkulov, who is also a former speaker of the Kyrgyz parliament, is one of
three prominent opposition leaders challenging rulings that would keep them out
of the running for parliamentary seats due to the residency requirement.
Sherimkulov argued that he was not in Kyrgyzstan because he was serving the
state in his capacity as ambassador to Ankara.
Former Kyrgyz ambassador to Malaysia Mambetzhunus Abylov appealed on January
14th as well to a Karakul city court against a similar decision barring him from
running in February's elections.
Former Foreign Minister and Kyrgyz Ambassador to the United States, Canada, and
Britain Roza Otunbaeva, also barred from participation in the elections, is also
seeking to have such a decision overturned.
Kyrgyzstan readies for organic agricultural system
Organic agriculture in Kyrgyzstan is predicted to start by 2006, allowing local
farmers the opportunity to increase their standard of living while at the same
time protect the environment, IRIN reported recently.
Organic agriculture is not yet popular in the largely mountainous former Soviet
republic but farmers are beginning to understand its advantages. Economically,
organic cotton commands 20 per cent more on average in its selling price than
regularly grown cotton.
Farmers in the south of Kyrgyzstan have organically produced their first 24
metres of cotton fibre. "I think I have chosen the right way to farm,"
said Reimov Makambai, a farmer from the Jalalabat region who recently switched
to organic farming.
To date, some 40 farmers in the Jalalabat region have converted from
conventional to organic agriculture, with another 160 ready to do so in 2005. By
2006, local farmers are expected to produce 110 metres of cotton fibre, which
will be certified as organic. It was decided that in the future not only cotton
but other organic products will be grown and sold both locally and abroad.
The organic agriculture initiative belongs to the Organic Cotton Production and
Trade Promotion Project, financed by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic
Affairs, the Dutch-based Hivos fund and the Swiss Association for International
Cooperation Helvetas. Helvetas, which implements the project, brings to
Kyrgyzstan its experience in organic cotton production from Mali, India and
Tanzania. In these countries, conversion from traditional to organic agriculture
has helped to stabilise the economic situation and even improve the health of
the local population and the environment. Soil in the project area was once
considered one of the most fertile in the world but due to decades of bad
agricultural management its quality has been degraded.
"Cotton is one of those difficult crops which requires the use of many
inorganic fertilisers, pesticides and defoliants. Intensive cotton growing leads
not only to the degradation of the soil but dramatically harms people's
health," Ilya Domashov, coordinator of programmes on sustainable
development in the ecological movement, Biom, said.
Extensive cotton growing in the Central Asian region and the use of chemicals
has resulted in an ecological crisis throughout much of the Aral Sea region.
"In this regard, organic agriculture could help to decrease the threat of
dangerous chemicals to nature and people's health," Domashov explained.