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Kyrgyzstan

In 2005, the estimated population was 5 263 000 people, of which 2 671 000 were females and 2 592 000 were males (1). In 2006, the annual growth rate was 1.32 percent. In the early 2000s, increased emigration of Russians and other minority nationalities with technical expertise was an important economic issue. In 2005, the net migration rate was −2.5 per 1 000 individuals. The population is concentrated in small areas in the north and southwest in the Chu, Fergana and Talas valleys (2). In 2005, 66 percent of the total population lived in rural areas(1). In 1997, Kyrgyz accounted for 60.8 percent of the total population, Russians for 15.3 percent, Uzbeks for 14.3 percent and Ukrainians for 1.5 percent; there were also some 80 other ethnic groups, including Germans, Tartars, Kazakhs, Koreans, Uigurs, Tajiks and Dungans (3). In 2005, 2 412 000 people were economically active, out of which 1 273 000 were male and 1 139 000 were female (1).

In 2007, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$3 745 million, while per capita GDP was US$187 (5). In the same year, services accounted for 49 percent of GDP, agriculture for 32.4 percent and industry for 18.6 percent (4). The country is mountainous with a predominantly agricultural economy. Cotton, tobacco, wool and meat are the main agricultural products, although only tobacco and cotton are exported in any quantity (4). Prior to 1991, the economy was highly dependent on the economy of the Soviet Union. The loss of key Soviet inputs caused severe economic contraction in the 1990s and has required substantial restructuring, but by mid-1995, production began to recover and exports began to increase. The Government has launched two major programmes to privatize state enterprises, which by 2003 had shifted about 7 000 enterprises to the private sector. However, domestic opposition and low foreign investment have slowed the rate of privatization (2)
Agriculture remains a vital part of the country’s economy and a refuge for workers displaced from industry. In 2007, 552 000 people were economically active in agriculture of which 355 000 were men and 197 000 were women (1). Subsistence farming increased in early 2000. Grain production in the lower valleys and livestock grazing on upland pastures occupy the largest share of the agricultural workforce. Farmers are shifting to grain and away from cotton and tobacco. Other important products are dairy products, hay, animal feed, potatoes, vegetables and sugar beets. Of total agricultural output, 55 percent comes from private household plots, 40 percent is from private farms and 5 percent comes from state farms in 2007 (2)

In 2006, with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.694, the country ranked 122nd out of 170 countries measured (6). In 2005, 43.1 percent of the population lived below the national poverty line and 21.8 percent lived under the US$1.25 a day poverty line (5). In 2001–2003, 4 percent of the population was undernourished (1). In 2007, the literacy rate was 99 percent for women and 100 percent for men (7). In the same year, life expectancy at birth was 69.9 years for women and 61.9 years for men (5).

The percentage of women working in agriculture has dropped considerably in recent years: in 1999, 64 percent of women were engaged in the agricultural sector compared with 42.4 percent in 2004 (8). With a declining level of rural employment, lack of non-farm opportunities and the collapse of the state social safety net, agriculture has become very important in providing basic food security and subsistence. Women continue to play an active role in agricultural production and farming; they provide from 30 to 70 percent of the total labour on the fields and have primary responsibility for farming household plots. Women’s employment in agriculture is relatively high, at about 46.5 percent in 2006. Women in rural areas are active in small-scale agro-processing, raising cattle and poultry and cultivating fruits and vegetables on small household plots. A number of microcredit organizations were opened by women’s self-help groups (9).

The country has an area of 198 500 square kilometres, of which 7 100 are water. In 2005, 6.5 percent of the land surface was classified as arable and 0.3 percent was planted to permanent crops. The remainder is mountains, glaciers and a high-altitude steppe that is used for grazing. More than 85 percent of arable land is irrigated (2).
Before the country became independent in 1991, all land and real estate was owned by the State (10). During the land and agrarian reform that started in 1991, distribution of land was carried out equally; half of the plots were allocated to women (11). Since 1998, the country has pursued a determined policy of privatization and market development. In the agricultural sector, this is reflected in the privatization of land ownership and the abolition of state and collective farms. Peasant farms, whose number grew to 246 901 in 2002 (12), emerged and changed the structure of agricultural production (13). As of 2002, land ownership and farm management have been distributed to more than 60 000 small private farms, 1 700 new cooperative or corporate farms and several hundred thousand private plots of less than 1 hectare (14). In 2002, there were 246 901 peasant farm holdings and farms of individual entrepreneurs that comprised 804 326 hectares of arable land. Of that total, farms headed by women accounted for 9 percent of the arable land and the remaining 91 percent of arable land was on farms headed by men. Among farms that had 100–1000 hectares of arable land, 13 were headed by women with a total of 2 027 hectares of arable land and 225 were headed by men with a total of 35 316 hectares of arable land (8).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography