DUSHANBE, February 17, 2011, Asia-Plus -- Tajik economist Farrukh Abduvosiyev has identified food security as one of the main problems facing the country and considers that the government must take adequate measure to address this issue.

According to him, ensuring food security must the priority of the government’s domestic policy.  “This problem is more important than the energy independence issue,” Abduvosiyev said.

“Food imports now account for more than 50 percent of all food products in the domestic consumer market, while under international standards food imports must account for not more than 20-25 percent,” said the expert, “The government must provide the domestic consumer market with local food product at least 70 percent.”

“After the collapse of the Soviet Union, food provision has considerably deteriorated in the country and over twenty years of independence, we have not seen much improvement in our agrarian sector.  Today all spheres of the agrarian sector have become deformed and the country’s agricultural capacity is used inefficiently, while the processing industry is stagnant.” 

He noted that all that poses a threat to the food security of Tajikistan and may gradually lead to social instability.

“That is no news that people in Tajikistan spend 70 percent of their income on food, while in the advanced countries this rate does not exceed 10 percent.  Rising prices force people to save expenses or spend more money than ever on food,” Abduvosiyev noted.  

The expert is sure that the government must focus not only on development of energy sector and construction of hydroelectric power plants, it also must actively enhance the agrarian sector, because “it is the food security that may be guarantee of the political independence of a nation.” 

 “It is necessary to create favorable conditions for domestic producers, grant privileges and preferences to them in order that it would be profitable for local farmers or producers to work inside the country,” said the expert, “No doubt, the country must have a market economy, however, we must also think about domestic commodity production and give priority to the agrarian sector,” Abduvosiyev stressed.  

He added that the government must regulate prices in the domestic consume market but not through making pressure on commodity producers and entrepreneurs.  “Prices should be regulated through providing subsidies to support development of the domestic production that will automatically lead to normalization of prices,” the expert noted.