Thursday, 28 October 2010

Cotton-picking campaign gains momentum in Andijan Region - – The general 10-day call-up of people to pick cotton has been announced in Andijan Region. The authorities are sparing no-one – neither the sick, nor breast-feeding mothers.

The peculiarity of this year’s cotton campaign is that people in Andijan Region do not know how much cotton their region should produce.

Some say that farmers have signed contracts to supply over 305,000 tonnes of cotton to the government. The local media have stopped reporting daily information about the amount of cotton picked in the region.

Specialists say that this year’s cotton target has been reduced by 10,000 tonnes compared with the 2008 target, whereas the number of cotton-picking brigades has been increased to 1,125, or over 203,000 people, from 497 brigades four years ago.

The authorities have tightened rules for exempting people from picking cotton. As a result, students at some universities have to pay up to $300 in bribes to avoid the cotton campaign.

No exemption is made for family or health reasons. A student with a three-month child said that her university had forced even her to pick cotton.

“I was told yesterday that I have to go to pick cotton for 10 days,” a middle-aged nurse said. “When I said that I was an old age pensioner and cannot endure that long in the cotton field for health grounds, the chief doctor told me that I would have to submit my resignation.”

She said that he had warned her that there were hundreds of young women who were leaving medical colleges every year to fill her position.

The cotton-picking campaign is in its height. It is not clear when it will end, as weather conditions are favouring the cotton pickers.