Turkmenistan in search of strategies to modernise agriculture and adapt to climate change - Ashgabat conference on sustainable land and water management
28. November 2017 - About 50 international and national experts convened for a conference on "Sustainable land and water management in dryland ecosystems in Central Asia" in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) on 23-24 November 2017. In the presence of German Ambassador to Turkmenistan Margret Uebber and deputy head of the German diplomatic mission to Uzbekistan Melanie Moltmann, the conference focused on a range of reform areas in agriculture and nature protection, including the diversification of production portfolios, strategies to economise on scarce water, forest and pasture resources, climate change impacts, and land management. The first day of the conference was devoted to the sustainable management of the Tugai forest ecosystems along the Amu Darya river in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The second day addressed key issues of agricultural development relevant for the Central Asia region. Prof. Dr. Martin Petrick, deputy head of IAMO’s department of agricultural policy, showed that Turkmenistan uses much more water to generate agricultural value than international peers, while its labour productivity in agriculture is considerably lower. Dr. Daniel Müller of IAMO emphasised that climate change will most likely bring dramatic temperature increases for Turkmenistan and that shrinking glaciers will reduce water runoff into the Amu Darya in the long term. As several Turkmen experts explained during the conference, the government of Turkmenistan is actively promoting the adaptation to climate change and more effective resource use. Reform strategies include the diversification of agricultural production into fruits, vegetables and dairy, and the decoupling of cotton and wheat production quotas from land use decisions made by farmers. The executive manager of the project on land and forest management of the Tugai forests, Dr. Ogulsona Karyeva, summarised the project’s efforts to restore saline lands and the introduction of salt tolerant forage crops. Dr. Kurbanmurad Ovezmuradov of the public organisation "Tebigy Kuvat" argued that future reforms of water management in agriculture should also consider financial instruments such as payments for water services or pollution charges and build on the experience of water user associations gained in the framework of donor projects active in the country. The event concluded by a discussion on deepening future scientific collaboration.
IAMO co-organised and supported this event in the framework of the AGRICHANGE project funded by the VolkswagenStiftung within the funding initiative "Between Europe and the Orient – A Focus on Research and Higher Education in/on Central Asia and the Caucasus". The group of co-organisers includes the Succow Stiftung Greifswald (Germany) and the National Institute of Deserts, Flora and Fauna under the State Committee on Environment and Land Resources of Turkmenistan in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan).
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