Asian Development Bank has approved a USD 154 million loan on 28 November to enhance horticulture value chain development in all 12 regions in Uzbekistan and the Republic of Karakalpakstan, the ADB press service announced.

“ADB's support will help increase access to long-term financing for horticulture farmers and enterprises along the horticulture value chain,” senior natural resources and agriculture economist with ADB’s Central and West Asia Regional Department Bui Minh Giap said. “It will allow them to increase their investments, maintain and expand employment, and generate stable incomes for themselves, their employees, and suppliers.”

It is planned that the government will relend the ADB loan to participating financial institutions (PFIs) that will extend subloans to interested and qualified farmers and enterprises to finance horticulture operations, including planting materials, processing and storage equipment, and mechanical equipment.

Eight PFIs were selected among commercial banks that expressed interest to participate in the project. They are Asaka Bank, Davr Bank, Hamkorbank, Ipak Yuli Bank, Ipoteka Bank, National Bank of Uzbekistan, Turon Bank and Uzpromstroybank.

Agriculture is an important sector in Uzbekistan, accounting for 32% of total employment. It is also a key income source in rural areas, where 49% of the population resides, according to ADB statement.

Uzbekistan’s horticulture exports could expand significantly by capturing a larger share of the Russian Federation market and entering European markets, ADB experts say. However, this will require improvements in horticulture quality, safety standards, certification systems, storage, processing, and marketing technologies.

The project will provide support to farmers and enterprise subborrowers to improve their business planning, horticulture agronomic techniques, post-harvesting operations and export market penetration.

Since Uzbekistan joined ADB in 1995, the country has received USD 5.1 billion in loans and USD 64.9 million in technical assistance grants.