See more from this Session: Virtual Posters
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Long Beach Convention Center, Outside Room 204, Second Floor, Virtual Posters
Winter wheat is the most important staple in Uzbekistan, Central Asia. Although the processing industry recognizes the low quality of local wheat, national policy prioritizes quantity rather than quality and hence better quality wheat is imported to improve the quality of local flour. However, with increasing world market prices and the constantly growing food demand, Uzbekistan is facing the decision whether or not to continue allocating considerable resources for importing quality wheat, or to start investing in local wheat quality improvements. This study analyzed the economic feasibility of local wheat production vs. import using the value-chain approach in the Khorezm region in northwest Uzbekistan. Based on experimental yield and quality findings, N-fertilizer management strategies were revised as an option for action by farmers towards improving wheat quality. The value-chain analysis showed a shortfall of 79,000 t of wheat to satisfy the regional demands, but the costs for importing these quantities could be met by cotton sales rather than expanding wheat area. This would also free agricultural land for alternative uses. Assuming 2007 prices for winter wheat, imports to the Khorezm region would remain financially viable only with a threshold price level of US$148/t. Wheat world market prices above these would support a policy to cultivate wheat in the region. In this case, the most effective way to introduce quality improvements is at the field level. Findings showed that with the current N-fertilizer management, baking quality of wheat remains low (12.3% raw protein content, 23.0% gluten content). Higher N-fertilizer rates and an additional application of N-fertilizer at heading significantly increased wheat quality. However, the quality increase due to improved N management goes along with higher production costs. Such additional expenses need to be compensated for by the market, buyers or consumers. In absence of regulating mechanisms and incentives, however, it is unrealistic to expect that producers maximize quality production. Given the rising price of wheat, and the need for Uzbekistan to import better quality flour to upgrade domestic wheat quality, any increase in kernel quality provides future opportunities and would contribute to the declared intention of wheat self-sufficiency.