As grain harvest ends in Turkmenistan, media are silent about harvest victory

The grain harvest in Turkmenistan has finished after the last harvesters were recalled from the fields of Dashoguz region – the area that started the harvest campaign one week after the other regions. However, there were no reports about successful collection of the state grain target of 1.6 million tons. On June 28, TDH, a state news agency, reported that production reached the milestone of 1 million tons. Since then, however, state media have gone silent on the harvest.

In recent years, Turkmenistan has failed repeatedly to meet the goal of harvesting 1.6 million tons of wheat. In 2015, it produced 1.4 million while last year it stopped at 1 million. It seems likely that this year the goal will be missed again, which could lead to another grain supply crisis similar to the one that happened in recent months.

“The plan for grain production will go unfulfilled, but officials don’t talk about it. They are all off for a two-week vacation. Once their holiday is over, the government will analyze the results of the harvest. Last year, the governors of every province and the vice-prime minister responsible for agriculture were reprimanded for coming short on the grain plan. This year, the president will likely scold them again,” ATN’s observer in Lebap region said.

Sources said that a drought during spring impaired the growth of the plants, thus reducing the yield of the fields and making it impossible to fulfill the plan. The emergence of underground salt water and salt storms in May aggravated the situation, damaging the crops.

In the provinces of Mary and Dashoguz, local residents bought as much grain as possible from the bazaars. Sources say that they buy large stocks without even bargaining with the sellers for a discount.

“If the state plan is unfulfilled again, there will be a shortage of bread and flour. They will again ration flour by the kilogram; people will have to wait in long lines for bread. Buying a couple of sacks of wheat in advance will give us some security,” a customer buying wheat at the Koneurgench bazaar said.

Until recently, every third Sunday of July Turkmenistan celebrated the harvest festival known as Galla Bayramy, marking the end of the harvest. The new Turkmen holiday calendar doesn’t include the harvest festival.