Uzbekistan: Land Improvement Project
The project aimed to improve agricultural land quality and productivity in Bukhara, Kashkadarya, and Navoi provinces, covering 162,300 hectares (ha) of land experiencing severe land degradation in Uzbekistan. Overall, the evaluation assessed the project successful. The project resulted in significant reductions in soil salinity that have continued to diminish since project completion. Shallow groundwater tables have been significantly reduced, indicating that another problem, waterlogging, has been addressed.
The evaluation found that expected yields of 3.0 tons/ha for cotton and 3.5 tons/ha for wheat were largely being achieved in the project areas. These yields represented 93% of the target for cotton and 147% of the target for wheat. The productivity of the project areas was also increased by bringing underutilized command areas into use. Policy reforms on cotton and wheat procurement prices, improved land tenure, and deregulation of production have been achieved; and the new government strategies for agriculture and water resources will provide a basis for further progress. The division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources into two separate ministries reinforced the need for cross-institutional coordination and harmonization to sustain the project achievements. The project was less than efficient due to project readiness weaknesses, which resulted in delays and cost overruns. While the drainage network in the project areas is now functioning well, irrigation inefficiencies remain a concern, and require greater attention to improve the resilience of the command areas to projected climate impacts on water availability.
This evaluation offers three recommendations. ADB should: (i) continue to support the government’s nascent agricultural and water management strategies to ensure they are complementary, and implemented in an integrated manner; (ii) improve the resilience of the agriculture sector by supporting projects in Uzbekistan that address water use inefficiencies and improve water productivity; and (iii) support better institutional efficiency, coordination, and data management of water resources for agriculture through technical assistance and policy dialogue.