August 13, 2008

Iranian Radio Report Looks at Cooking Oil Price Rise in Uzbekistan

Excerpt from report by state-run Iranian radio external service from Mashhad on 12 August

[Presenter] The prices of some foodstuffs have risen in Uzbekistan as a result of a drought. Our correspondent in Tashkent, Horun Abdurashid, has more details.

[Passage omitted: the prices of foodstuffs have gone up in the world as more crops are being used for producing alternative fuel, the correspondent says]

[Correspondent] Vegetable oil is one of the essential foodstuffs and the rise in vegetable oil prices in the world affected Uzbekistan. This time last year, one litre of sunflower oil cost 1,500 soms and one litre of cotton oil - about 1,000-1,200 soms. But sunflower oil costs no less than 4,500 soms today and cotton oil costs more than 3,000 soms [one dollar is about 1,300 soms].

[Passage omitted: background information]

[Correspondent] The country's population has been using cotton oil for cooking food for the last 70 years. The oil extracted from crops like soy, olive and sunflower is rarely used and local population is not used to it. The consumption of sunflower oil and olive oil has increased in the country today as a result of globalization. But they are mainly imported from foreign countries.

According to the fat, oil and food industry association of Uzbekistan, the country will start producing sunflower oil and sunflower was sown in 82,000 ha of land this year for this purpose. By 2011, sunflower oil will make up 20 per cent of the whole volume of oil produced in Uzbekistan. This will boost the county's capacity of providing its population with oil.

Cotton oil is almost not sold in shops even though it is very expensive. The cotton oil, which has been secretly brought from factories and is of low quality, can be found in markets, but it is very expensive and sold in limited quantities.

Currently, the number of weddings has increased in Uzbekistan. In other words, many people are trying to marry their children before the beginning of the [Muslim] month of Ramadan. Pilau [a rice dish] in large cauldrons and a lot of food are prepared during weddings. At least 50-100 litres of cotton oil are used for these purposes. However, it is difficult to find this amount of cooking oil in a shop or a market. Each family can buy 1-2 litres of cooking oil every month, which is controlled by neighbourhood committees. The committees may allocate 15-20 litres of cooking oil to those who are seeking assistance in organizing a wedding. However, the remaining amount of cooking oil should be found by a person organizing the wedding himself.

Taking into account that the country produces millions of tonnes of cotton, having small amounts of cotton oil is becoming a riddle for many people.

Originally published by Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran External Service, Mashhad in Uzbek 1500 12 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Central Asia. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.