A government survey of land use in Kyrgyzstan has shown that the country is gradually losing agricultural land, akipress.org reported on 15 July. Only 1.05 million hectares of Kyrgyzstan's total 19.99 million-hectare territory is classified as arable. The survey found that in some areas formerly arable land has been lost to agriculture because of a lack of investment and the deterioration of irrigation and drainage systems that has resulted in salinization. Natural disasters -- including floods, landslides, and avalanches -- reportedly have also taken a toll on the country's agricultural land. The institution of private land ownership by referendum in 1998 was supposed to help resolve Kyrgyzstan's agricultural problems, but by the beginning of 2003 only 6 percent of the land in the country was in the hands of private owners, and presumably much of that is not being used for agriculture.
akipress.org, July 16, 2003