Winter wheat quantity or quality? Assessing food security in Uzbekistan
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- Kienzler, K.M., Rudenko, I., Ruzimov, J. et al. Food Sec. (2011) 3: 53. doi:10.1007/s12571-010-0109-9
Winter wheat is the most important cereal in Uzbekistan. Although the processing industry recognizes the low quality of local wheat, the present land use policy prioritizes production quantity, and wheat of better quality is imported to improve local flour. Yet, with increasing world market prices, Uzbekistan has to decide whether to continue allocating considerable resources for imports or to start investing in local quality improvements. This study therefore analyzed wheat production in the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan by (a) assessing the economic feasibility of local production vs. imports; and by (b) evaluating the current N-fertilizer management at field level in order to identify options for improving quality. Demand for wheat in the region currently falls short of supply by 79,000 t but under favorable world market prices, funds for importing additional wheat could be covered by cotton sales. Prices above $148 USD t−1 support the present land use policy to cultivate wheat but the baking quality of the crop is low. Higher N rates and/or an additional application of N at anthesis significantly increased grain quality. Additional costs for changes in N management, however, are currently not compensated by the price premiums at the State mills. Thus, in the absence of price incentives, it is unrealistic to expect producers to maximize quality production. Consequently, administrators must give quality greater attention by creating incentives through price differentials for higher quality, and encouraging awareness programs on wheat quality and improved on-field N management.