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Agricultural Restructuring, Water Scarcity and the Adoption to Climate Change in Central Asia: A Five-Country Study

AGRIWANET is a pilot project for partnership in research and education with the Central Asian countries composed of a consortium of seven mutually-independent institutions based in six different countries. The lead institution of the project is the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO).
The project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and runs from 2014 to 2016.

Researchers at five CA5 research organizations prepare country studies which are analyzed together with the German colleagues. In addition, together with colleagues from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg project’s summer schools are carried out. Researchers and staff from international partner organizations review the project progress and output and ensure its relevance for practical policy and decision making.


As climate change is projected to increase water scarcity and water supply variability, the challenge of water management in the five Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (CA5) is becoming more salient than ever. A main water user in all these countries is agriculture, and this sector continues to be important as a source of export revenue, domestic food security and income for rural people. The improvement of the nations’ adaptive capacity to growing water supply volatility and scarcity by rehabilitation and modernization of their irrigation infrastructures is costly. Furthermore, it is questionable whether a purely technical approach is effective in addressing the underlying problems. Agricultural reorganization is a crucial determinant of the regional resilience to climate change and water scarcity. It includes the restructuring of agricultural production, adjustments in farm structures and farming patterns as well as reforms in land and water use. Therefore, the goal of the AGRIWANET project is to shed new light on the complex interrelation between water supply and farm organization in Central Asia.

The key idea of the project is to assemble a cross country database on water management and agricultural performance from domestic statistical sources, to train young researchers from CA5 in analyzing this data within a team of senior scientists from Germany, CA5, and affiliated international organizations, to engage in networking with these partners and to use the output in the form of a synthesis report as a basis for future joint research activities. Coverage of all five countries, support to capacity building and the education of young researchers as well as the utilization of statistical data provided by domestic agencies figure prominently in achieving this goal. Even so, the analysis has also much to offer for the international development research community. Twenty years of experience in CA5 provide a fertile ground for comparative analysis that speaks to general issues in agricultural development. For example, there is considerable disagreement on whether an agricultural development strategy should focus on the promotion of cash crops to generate export earnings or on food staples to improve domestic food security. A key aim is to learn the lessons from this experience by combining local insights with an international, cross-country research perspective. The project results will bring a common understanding to scattered studies on agricultural restructuring and water use and, ultimately, the coherence of the individual measures the CA5 countries have been implementing.