DUSHANBE, March 30, 2012, Asia-Plus  -- Some districts in the southern Khalton province have launched a cotton-sowing campaign.

“To-date, some farming units in Khatlon province have planted cotton on 3,300 hectares,” Abboskhouja Yahyokhoujayev, the head of the crop sector department within the Ministry of Agriculture, told Asia-Plus in an interview Friday afternoon.

According to him, 209,000 hectares have been allocated to cotton cultivation this year; of them, more than 5,600 hectares will be sown with fine-stapled cotton.

“Specialists expect farmers to yield between 415,000 to 420,000 tons of raw cotton this year, depending on weather conditions,” Yahyokhoujayev said.

Last year, Tajikistan yielded more than 415,000 tons of raw cotton from 204,000 hectares, which was 6.2 percent or 25,000 tons more than it was originally planned.

Cotton makes an important contribution to both the agricultural sector and the national economy.  Cotton accounts for 60 percent of agricultural output, supports 75 percent of the rural population, and uses 45 percent of irrigated arable land.  At the national level, it is an important source of both export earnings and tax revenue.  Cotton fiber accounts for some 15 percent of Tajikistan’s exports.  Tajikistan is reportedly the world’s fourth largest exporter of cotton, and there is strong demand on international markets for its high quality product.