OREANDA-NEWS. October 13, 2008. The World Bank and the Government of Uzbekistan signed a US67.96 million IDA credit for the second phase of Uzbekistan Rural Enterprise Support Project (RESP-II).

The Project will assist the newly independent farmers to increase the productivity and financial and environmental sustainability of agriculture and the profitability of agribusiness.

On behalf of the Government the Project was signed by Rustam Azimov, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Uzbekistan. Loup Brefort, World Bank's Country Manager for Uzbekistan, signed the Project on behalf of the Bank.

The proposed RESP-II follows and builds upon the experience and success of RESP-I which have supported farmers in 5 pilot districts through the privatization and restructuring of farming and associated agribusiness activities.

The RESP-II will scale up the support to about 90 districts in seven regions so that to increase yields and improve access to agricultural mechanization and to business advisory services. It will also increase the farmers' access to non government sources of finance.

Loup Brefort says: "Agriculture has always been a major component of the Uzbek economy. The proposed Project responds directly to the Welfare Improvement Strategy of Uzbekistan and the recently approved Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) aligned with WIS. It addresses such issues as reducing rural poverty and overcoming regional disparities through rural income generation and employment creation".

There are three main components to the project:

Rural Enterprise Finance

Irrigation and Drainage

Rural Training and Advisory Services

By the time the Project is completed the farmers of 90 districts in seven regions of Uzbekistan will have access to project credit lines and training; farmers and Water Users Associations (WUA) will have access to capacity building and training for WUA operations and to a number of demonstration plots for improved agricultural management practices. Investments will be made on on-farm and inter-farm drainage and irrigation infrastructure.

Uzbekistan joined the World Bank in 1992. The World Bank's mission in the country is to improve people's livelihoods through being a partner in economic reforms, supporting the modernization of the country's social sectors and infrastructure, and sharing its knowledge and experience with the government and the people of Uzbekistan.

Total World Bank commitments to Uzbekistan amount to US722 million as of 1 July 2008.