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Uzbekistan's Small Farmers Unhappy With Land Reforms

Many Uzbek farmers are complaining about land-reform plans that are forcing small farms to merge with larger ones.

The head of the Human Rights Initiative Group of Uzbekistan, Surat Ikromov, told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that government officials in various parts of Uzbekistan are forcing farmers to give up land that they lease from the state. He said that "land is simply being confiscated from farmers by threats and by force."

Ikromov said officials cite a decree by President Islam Karimov to justify the land seizures. According to the alleged decree, farms with less than 80 hectares should be given to larger farms.

There are officially more than 215,000 private farms in Uzbekistan employing about 1.5 million people. Ikromov said there are fears that this "collectivization" of land could severely reduce the number of farms, leading to massive unemployment.