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Thursday 20 May 2021

Turkmenabat Oil Factory Halts Due to Lack of Raw Materials


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ASHGABAT (Radio Azatlyk) — After the authorities seized 10 tonnes of cotton seeds in Lebap, there were reports of a shortage of raw materials for cotton oil production and, as a consequence, the shutdown of the region’s largest oil factory.

(Credit: RFE/RLE)

Radio Azatlyk reported on 19 May that in the town of Galkynysh of the Dyanevsky etrap, the Economic Crimes Unit of the police seized 10 tons of cotton seeds, 1 ton of crude semi-finished oil and equipment for the artisanal production of oil.

According to recent reports by Radio Azatlyk correspondents, production at the Turkmenabad oil mill has been halted these days due to a shortage of cotton seeds. “We have run out of cotton seeds. There is no raw material. That’s why the factory has stopped work”, a specialist at the oil mill told Azatlyk. “Sixty per cent of the workers have been sent on unpaid leave”, he added. Queue in front of one of the state-owned shops in Ashgabat

The region’s largest edible oil factory has put most of its workers on leave without pay as Turkmenistan continues its economic crisis fraught with food shortages.

Recall that two months earlier, many state-owned enterprises in Lebap velayat had already cut jobs, and in some, workers’ wages began to be paid in kind. “Workers were obliged to go on unpaid leave as of 1 June. They will not receive their wages for three months. We were told there would be no work until September, when seeds from the next cotton harvest would arrive”, an oil mill worker told Radio Azatlyk. According to him, the people sent on leave without pay are not seasonal workers.

While the largest oil factory has suspended production, the price of cotton oil is rising in the bazaars. “The price of a five-litre bottle of cotton oil has risen to 200 manats”, a local resident told Azatlyk.

In state shops, cotton oil is dispensed once a month as a ration. ‘Every family is given 1.5 litres of cotton oil once a month. Two packs of matches are given in addition. Families with 10 people can buy 3 litres, and if there are more than 10 family members, they can buy 5 litres of oil. 1.5 litres of oil and two packs of matches cost 10 manats”, a local man said. But, he said, locals have already started worrying that due to the stoppage of production at the oil factory, the oil ration may be cut. “The butter factory has shut down. The butter will be in short supply again”, the residents worry.

The hurricane force winds that hit the eastern region of Turkmenistan in April last year caused extensive damage to crops. According to the correspondent, during the sowing season of 2020 in Chardjev, Farap and Sayat etraps of Lebap velayat some fields had to be reseeded two or three times. Due to the late sowing, the cotton yield was low. Low cotton yields have resulted in a shortage of seed cotton, which has also led to a shortage of oil.

Radio Azatlyk regularly reports on shortages in the agricultural sector resulting from the state’s failure to honour its contract with the Dehghans (“farmers”). Farmers complain that the state does not provide them with the promised fertilizers, farm equipment and irrigation water.

Locals recall when cotton oil was in abundance. “It used to be good. You could buy as much as you wanted, 10 litres or 40 litres of cotton oil. I wish we could go back to those days. It’s all gone like a dream”, recalls Mama Daisa of Lebap bitterly.

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