We were amazed to see a packed audience in 2010 when our team from the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA) traveled to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Our Uzbek trainees came from many backgrounds—teachers, builders, businessmen—eager to learn about this vital link in the agricultural value chain. Most did not have experience in the cold chain, let alone a refrigeration facility to manage, yet they soon formed the foundation for the country’s remarkable cold chain development.
Following a public policy directive issued in 2011 by the Government of Uzbekistan and supported by international financial institutions, the government established a preferential lending regime for the cold storage sector. Uzbekistan has since increased its refrigerated warehousing from 258,000 cubic meters in 2010 to more than 3.5 million cubic meters with technical assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) AgLinks, AgLinks Plus, and Agricultural Value Chains (AVC) programs.
Farmers have enjoyed greater sales growth in high-value vegetables and fruits—such as grapes, cherries, and apricots—as a result of the crops’ longer lifespans. This boom in cold-storage infrastructure has enhanced Uzbekistan’s market capabilities, improving the abilities of farmers, transporters, grocers, and exporters to increase sales. In 2016 alone, for example, horticultural exports jumped by 38 percent, to more than 800,000 tons of fruit and vegetables. These results have also enabled households in Uzbekistan to consume fruits and vegetables more readily and over a longer period of the year.
Enthusiasm for New Ways
The fall of the Soviet Union 25 years ago challenged Uzbekistan’s agricultural community to take on significant agricultural reform and job redistribution. Large farm collectives were broken up and redistributed to private farm enterprises, with infrastructure and agricultural practices needing rehabilitation and retooling to meet the needs of more market-oriented private farms and businesses. In 2007, DAI launched...