The President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has signed a decree ordering the abolition of the state-order system for cotton crops, bringing the nation a step closer to ridding the cotton cultivation sector of forced labour.
The decree was signed on 9 March and sees the end of a decades-old state quota system for the cultivation and sale of cotton starting for the 2020 harvest.
The order also removes obligations on farmers to participate in cotton production, which experts say should give them more flexibility to plant other cash crops.
The decree in full is available in Russian here.
Last month, The International Labour Organization (ILO) said according to its latest findings, the systematic and systemic use of child labour and forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry has come to an end.
Despite this, it said 102,000 pickers were recorded as being in forced labour during the harvest in 2019 – although this number was 40% lower than in 2018. And the involuntary recruitment of staff from state institutions, agencies and enterprises still occurs at the local level.
Improvements have stemmed from greater efforts from government law enforcement in 2019. The number of labour inspectors doubled from 200 to 400, and 1,282 forced labour cases were investigated. In January 2020, Mirziyoyev, signed new legislation criminalising forced labour.