Agriculture is the backbone of the Kyrgyz Republic’s rural economy. It employs about 40 percent of the country’s labor force and accounts for 20 percent of the gross domestic product. Unfortunately, the sector has been slow to modernize since the end of communism and growth has been insufficient to reduce poverty and food insecurity in rural areas. Misuse and poor practices have resulted in the degradation of agricultural land. Additionally, inadequate water management, long a problem in the country, continues to hamper production.
These constraints and shortfalls contribute to high unemployment in rural areas and mass labor migration to Russia, Kazakhstan, and various other countries.
The World Food Program estimates that 16 percent of the poorest quintile of Kyrgyz households have poor food consumption. Some regions even exhibit poor or worse food consumption scores for as much as a quarter of all households.
Nutrition indicators are likewise a cause for concern: rates of stunting among children in the south of the country, which is predominantly rural, are over 20%.
To address these trends, USAID works to improve food security and increase farmer’s income levels in the Kyrgyz Republic. With a focus on smallholder farmers in the south of the country, we support rural advisory services, develop horticulture and livestock value chains, invest in farming productivity, develop processing facilities, and support agricultural market access.