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Cablegate: Turkmenistan: Dashoguz Farmers Make Good Use of U.S.

VZCZCXRO4716
RR RUEHAG RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAH #0817/01 2201318
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 081318Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9156
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 2642
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0467
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0502
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0524
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2212
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0961
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0256
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1009
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0335
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 0174
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 0223
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 0145
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE 0159
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 0184
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 0497
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC//DHO-2/REA/NMJIC-J2//
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC//J5/RUE//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ASHGABAT 000817

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, SCA/A, EUR/ACE, EEB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID AF TX
SUBJECT: TURKMENISTAN: DASHOGUZ FARMERS MAKE GOOD USE OF U.S.
ASSISTANCE


ASHGABAT 00000817 001.2 OF 004


1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for public internet.

SUMMARY

2. (U) During his July 25 meeting with USAID Deputy Assistant
Administrator Drew Luten, Dashoguz Hakim [governor]Saparmyrat
Ashyrov positively assessed USAID's contributions to economic
development in Dashoguz welayat [province] and expressed a desire to
continue current cooperation. In outlining the Government of
Turkmenistan's massive plans for infrastructure projects in the
welayat, he highlighted the importance placed by the government on
improving rural livelihoods. He stopped short, however, of straying
from the party line regarding the possibility of expanded trade
relations with neighboring Uzbekistan. Recently appointed Deputy
Hakim Shemshat Mamedova accompanied the delegation for the entire
program of site visits to a USAID-funded agricultural support
center, projects supported by USAID's Water Users' Associations
program, and a USAID/Winrock-supported cheese producer. Her
positive impressions of the activities, shared with the delegation
at the end of the day, suggest continued official support in
Dashoguz welayat for USAID's community-level activities. END
SUMMARY.

GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE SECTORS GROWING IN PARALLEL

3. (U) Following USAID DAA Drew Luten's introduction of the
delegation's goals and its desire to meet with officials in the
welayats as well as the capital, Dashoguz welayat Hakim Saparmyrat
Ashyrov offered his gratitude for their coming to Turkmenistan to
promote economic development. He was familiar with USAID's
"extensive experience," and looked forward to continuing the
projects' "good results." The private sector was "growing in
parallel" to the government sector, and 9,000 hectares (HA) of
wheat, cotton, sorghum and fodder were now under private
cultivation. The government leased 180,000 HA of cotton, 180,000 HA
of wheat and 6,000 HA of rice on a long-term basis, and provided a
full range of support, including access to "sturdy and durable" John
Deere and Case tractors. Turkmenistan was reforming the
agricultural sector under the president's direction with the goal of
improving living conditions and increasing productivity.

4. (U) Noting the hakim's proud reference to the U.S. farm
equipment being used in Dashoguz, Danica Starks of the Department of
Commerce's International Trade Administration said that the DOC was
ready to assist in increasing sales of American equipment, if the
opportunity existed. She then introduced the Special American
Business Internship Training (SABIT) program, which had increased
its funding for Turkmenistani participants this year. Starks
promised to provide information on the 2008 programs when the calls
for applicants were announced.

"I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE EXCITED...THE PEOPLE ARE, TOO"

5. (U) In response to Luten's question about what Turkmenistan's
new strategy for rural development meant for Dashoguz, Ashyrov
replied that social welfare programs had already been underway for
the past seven months, and the population was grateful for the
President's efforts. He then listed some of the upcoming
infrastructure projects to be undertaken in Dashoguz: a water
purification plant, a maternity clinic/hospital, an agricultural

ASHGABAT 00000817 002.2 OF 004


institute, a sports stadium, a school for 600 students, a
kindergarten for 160 kids, a thermal turbine electric station, two
grain elevators, a flour mill, a recently completed asphalt plant to
support ongoing highway construction, 30 new John Deere combines,
and 100 Kamaz (Russian) trucks for road construction. All these
projects were aimed at improving the lives of the people. "Very
impressive," Luten responded. "Well, I'm not the only one
excited...the people are, too," Ashyrov quickly added.

6. (SBU) Ashyrov was visibly uncomfortable when asked by EUR/ACE's
Dean Fischer about the level of trade with nearby Uzbekistan. After
a concerned look towards the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' notetaker,
he referred to the recent meeting between President Berdimuhammedov
and Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov at the June CIS summit in Russia, and
said the two countries sought to pursue specific mutual benefits in
the relationship. To the suggestion that Uzbekistan represented a
potential new market for various Dashoguz products due to their
proximity, Ashyrov said that that was a "higher level issue," even
though they already imported Uzbek fertilizers and used
Uzbek-produced heavy machinery.

7. (U) USAID Country Representative Ashley Moretz thanked the hakim
for his ongoing willingness to meet with a variety of U.S.
delegations. It was important for the delegation to see the results
of our joint efforts. USAID looked forward to sharing information
with the hakim about its new Community Empowerment Program (NOTE:
Known in Russian as "MIR," short for Local Initiatives for
Development. END NOTE.), as implementing partner Counterpart
expanded on its past activities. Also, when IREX's Internet Access
and Training Program (IATP) opened its new branch in Dashoguz,
Moretz asked for support in ensuring that the local partner received
an internet account.

TAGT COOPERATIVE: PROVIDING AGRICULTURAL SUPPORT TO LOCAL FARMERS

7. (U) After the meeting with the hakim, the delegation traveled to
the agricultural cooperative "Tagt" in Gerogly etrap. Founded in
1997 with support from the German technical cooperation agency GTZ,
Tagt partnered with Counterpart International in 2006 to implement
USAID's Water-User Association assistance program in Dashoguz
welayat. Through this project, Counterpart International provided
an 8-month institutional grant to establish an Agricultural Support
Center on the cooperative's base with the goal of strengthening the
capacity of Farmer Organizations in Dashoguz welayat and increasing
farmers' income. The delegation heard a presentation on the group's
history and recent activities, and met a Winrock Farmer-to-Farmer
volunteer on assignment in Dashoguz to increase local knowledge on
marketing pasta products.

ZAHMET: NEW FLOUR MILL IMPROVES QUALITY AND YIELD

8. (U) The delegation next visited the "Zahmet" farmers' group in
Goyunly village. First organized in 1992, twelve families belong to
"Zahmet," which collectively have five HA of private, backyards
plots used to cultivate wheat, in addition to 42 HA of land rented
from the state. Four people work at the plant: two at the flourmill
and two in the group's new pasta-producing facilities. The Tagt
Agricultural Support Center assisted the farmers' group to get a
grant of $1,300 for the flourmill facility and $1,000 for the pasta
equipment. Existing local mills, the nearest of which was old, had

ASHGABAT 00000817 003.2 OF 004


low productivity and was more than six kilometers away, were not
able to process all the farmers' wheat. The project assisted with
building a small mill and installed pasta-making equipment that has
increased flour yield and quality.

GOKDEY: CLEANED DRAINAGE CANALS DOUBLE YIELDS

9. (U) Traveling to Boldumsaz etrap, the delegation met with the
Garashsyzlyk farmers' organization, whose productivity had decreased
considerably due to the gradual choking of its drainage canals over
time. The project's grant assisted with cleaning 11 kilometers of
drainage canals and increased farmers' access to water resources.
The productivity of another nearby group, Gokdey, decreased from 50
to 15 centners per hectare due to problems associated with
irrigation of their land. The group used their grant to clean
1,000 meters of the drainage canals, build 1.3 kilometers of
electrical line, and install a water pump and power transformer.
These combined improvements resulted in doubled yields from their
wheat crops in the first year alone. Yields are expected to
continue to increase as the local water table further drops due to
the improved drainage.

WINROCK SUPPORTS TURKMENISTAN'S LEADING PRIVATE CHEESE PRODUCER

10. (U) The Chowdurbayev family started its private dairy business
in 1999 in Gubadag etrap, about 30 kilometers from Dashoguz city.
Mr. Chowdurbayev, a 2001 participant in the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's Cochran Fellowship program, originally produced 30-40
kg of cheese per week with six employees, but has expanded to
current production levels of 100 kg of cheese per day that is
manually packed via vacuum machine and transferred by air to
Ashgabat.

11. (U) In 2004, the host's cheese started to mold during
production due to the lack of preservative coating, which resulted
in significant financial losses. The plant also faced difficulties
with storage and promotion of finished commodities. After being
approached by Winrock Turkmenistan regarding potential assistance,
"Farmer-to-Farmer" (FTF) volunteer-experts helped the host to
improve their cheese production and marketing skills which resulted
in almost doubling of its sales. Volunteer-experts also helped to
develop a new logo and labels for the host's cheese products.
Further support assisted the employees of the cheese plant to
adequately reduce the cheese processing time, thus saving time and
electricity, improving the cheese's body and increasing yields.
Based on his success, Mr. Chowdurbayev now plans to build a second
plant in another milk-producing district of the welayat due to
strong demand in Dashoguz welayat and Ashgabat markets.

COMMENT

11. (U) USAID assistance in Dashoguz welayat is having a tangible
impact on people's livelihoods. Welayat Hakim Ashyrov readily
acknowledged this point during his meeting with the delegation and
expressed his desire to see the cooperation continue. Being
assigned by the hakim to accompany the delegation for the entire
visit was a good opportunity for his deputy, who admitted over lunch
that she was already familiar with USAID's health programs
supporting the introduction of family medicine from her previous
post in Ashgabat, to see firsthand the scope and reach of the

ASHGABAT 00000817 004.2 OF 004


programs across the welayat. While waiting for the delegation's
flight to return to Ashgabat in the airport's VIP lounge, both she
and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs notetaker shared their positive
impressions of the various projects, which bodes well for
local-level government support for future such activities in the
welayat.

12. (U) COMMENT CONTINUED: That the beneficiary groups the
delegation visited spoke positively of their relations with local
governments, how the projects had helped them to better understand
their respective roles in a democratic society, and their ambitious
goals for the future demonstrated the positive results of the
community-based approach to development adopted after the NGO law
passed in 2003 led USAID to shift its approach away from more
traditional NGO registration and organizational development
activities. Both USAID's new Community Empowerment Project and
AgLinks projects are well positioned to build on these activities by
supporting local economic development initiatives in rural areas.
END COMMENT.

13. (U) DAA Luten has cleared this cable.

HOAGLAND

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