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Uzbek President Says Chickens Are The Answer


During the 1928 election campaign in the United States, the Republican Party hailed the kind of prosperity that put a "chicken in every pot." It echoed a possibly apocryphal quote widely attributed to King Henry IV of France desiring a "chicken to eat, every Sunday" for every laborer.

Uzbekistan's new president, Shavkat Mirziyaev, has gone a step further, ordering every rural household to keep chickens as a source of food and potential income for families.

Mirziyaev made the comment during a recent visit to the poorest part of the country, the western Karakalpakstan Autonomous Region, made up mainly of desert and parts of which are an ecological disaster zone due to alkaline soil and wind-borne salt from the desiccating Aral Sea.

The president's plan is for every rural household to have 100 chickens that would produce "at least" 50 eggs daily, 10 of which they could eat and the other 40 of which they could sell.

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, known locally as Ozodlik, produced a light-hearted video based on a clip of Mirziyaev's comments and graphics outlining the plan.

As a program for low-income families, or as food security for remote areas, the plan has merit. On the other hand, if every household is keeping chickens, it is unclear to whom all those families will be able to sell their extra eggs.

Ozodlik spoke with some residents of Uzbekistan who agreed, on condition of anonymity, to give their opinion of Mirziyaev's plan.

One person explained that he knew nothing about keeping chickens except that they needed medicines sometimes, which would cost him money, and the effort needed to tend to 100 chickens would leave him little time for anything else.

There is also the matter of chicken feed, which is not in huge supply in Uzbekistan and therefore might need to be purchased from other countries -- a matter made more difficult by the fact that the Uzbek national currency, the som, is not convertible.

However, it is encouraging that Mirziyaev, who was sworn in in December to succeed the late Islam Karimov, is considering ways to improve the lives of Uzbekistan's people, even if this initial proposal is probably in need of some refining.

Based on material from RFE/RL's Uzbek Service
The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

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About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change. Content will draw on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad. The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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