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The land

90% of the country is desert; there are mountains in the south; and the country borders the Caspian Sea in the west. According to Koeppen’s classification, the climate is of the dry type, with both steppe and desert climate (subtropical desert).

Turkmenistan possesses the world’s fifth-largest reserves of natural gas, and substantial oil resources. Gas exports faced substantial difficulties, including suspension in the second half of the 1990s due to a drop in demand from traditional trade partners.

Arable land and permanent crops cover 1.7 million ha; permanent pastures cover 30 million ha; and forests and woodland cover 4 million ha. At the end of the 1990s, new virgin land was being brought under the plough. There is nomadic cattle raising in the desert and intensive agriculture in irrigated oases. The main crops are cotton, wheat, barley, rice, maize, fruit and vegetables.

Other indicators

Agricultural imports comprise grain and processed food, while agricultural exports consist of cotton (second-largest exporter in the region for cotton lint (170 000 t estimated for 1999)).

The labour force participation ratio of women to men was 0.8 in 1998.

Agricultural sector

From 1995, the Government took steps towards the establishment of a market economy. It removed price controls over most consumer goods, privatized most micro- or small enterprises and trade establishments, and initiated a leasehold programme to transfer agriculture land to private farmers. Recent reports indicate large imports of quality seeds and increased use of fertilizers. Resources are being allocated to farmers for expanding rice production. In 2000 the country substantially increased its imports of land improvement, irrigation and harvesting equipment.

Seed sector

There is no specific legislation concerning PGR and PBR. Breeding activity is carried out at State PGR Experiment Stations; however, over 82% of commercial varieties come from abroad, which means that the level of breeding work in the country has been relatively low, except for cotton, melons, onions and sorghum. In fact, before 1991, much PGR and breeding activity was coordinated by VIR in St Petersburg. Several farms specialize in seed production and supply the state with seed. The state controls the quality and the varietal composition of the seed production. For the 2000 harvest, reports indicated that 190 000 t of quality seed had been used in sowing winter cereals.

Germplasm collections

Collections exist at the Turkmen Academy of Agricultural Sciences and at the Turkmenistan Experiment Station for PGR.

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