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On Thursday, September 15, 2016, United States Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Pamela Spratlen, announced the launch of the new U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) five-year, $14 million Agricultural Value Chains (AVC) program. Approximately 50 representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tashkent Agrarian University, Mirzaev Horticulture Institute, farmers, and private agribusinesses companies, as well as representatives of other international organizations were present for the launch ceremony and annual grape contest, held at the Academician Makhmud Mirzaev Scientific-Research Institute of Horticulture, Viticulture and Wine-making in Tashkent.

The new program, which targets stone fruit, vegetable, melon, and grape value chains, is designed to improve the horticultural sector along the entire value chain, creating jobs, improving incomes, and increasing fruit yield and quality.

Noting the importance of horticulture to the economy of Uzbekistan, Ambassador Spratlen thanked the Government of Uzbekistan for their partnership in this important project and noted “Since 2008, USAID has partnered with Uzbekistan on the horticultural sector and I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Uzbek horticulture than a grape variety contest that showcases the diversity, quality, and richness of produce that is a true national treasure.”

The project, which covers 12 provinces in 33 districts across Uzbekistan, will work to: improve the quality and volume of agricultural production; improve post-harvest handling and production; facilitate market linkages both domestically and internationally; and link agricultural educational institutions with private sector demand.

Following the ceremony, participants gathered for the annual grape contest, an event to promote the exchange of information, attract new clients for farmers, and encourage networking.

USAID in partnership with the National Research Institutions on Horticulture and Vegetables created catalogs detailing the most marketable fruit and vegetable varieties. These catalogs were used for promoting the export of Uzbek fruits and vegetables to international markets during the first International Fruit and Vegetable Fair held in Tashkent from July 12 to 14.

 Uzbekistan plans to increase production of fruits and vegetables up to 32 million tonnes by 2020, the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyayev said in the opening ceremony of International Fruit and Vegetable Fair on 12 July.