Agriculture remains a major component of Uzbekistan’s economy. Supporting private sector actors along the high-value agricultural value chain helps to assist some of the poorest and most vulnerable, but also has significant multiplier effects. High value agricultural production reduces the proportion of land used for cotton production, which is resource-intensive and requires a large amount of water and labor. At the same time, this sector promotes high-quality jobs for Uzbek citizens domestically, increasing income levels, and creating markets for U.S. firms. The primary goal was that the selected state Uzbekistan radio, regional TV outlet and weekly newspaper acquire valuable and credible information about U.S. agricultural infrastructure and share it with their audiences in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has been experiencing rapid changes in many areas and many reforms have been initiated by the Uzbek President. U.S. Embassy in Tashkent is now able to implement programs that have not been possible for more than a decade, and cooperation from the government and non-governmental organizations has been steadily improving. This includes cooperation with the country’s state-run broadcast company, MTRK.
The Uzbekistan Agriculture tour began with a visit to the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Firebird Farm in Beltsville, MD, an urban research farm and example of a land grant university to showcase partnership that the agriculture industry has with university for agriculture education and research in an urban area.
Mchezaji “Che” Axum, Director of the Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education in the College of Agriculture Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) at UDC, provided a tour and overview.
The team met with Dr. J. Scott Angle – Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for an overview and history of NIFA. Dr. Angle discussed how NIFA’s research investments support American farming and agriculture through our Land Grant Universities, programs and share some examples of impact.
The group concluded the day at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), for an overview with CEO Dr. Barbara Glenn. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories.
The following day journalists captured cover footage at a local urban organic farmers market, an example of how local farms are selling produce directly to the local community.
The team spent the rest of the day filming stand ups at the White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and on Capitol Hill. On Sunday the team travels to Arizona to tour cotton farming practices and production in dry areas of the country.
The Uzbekistan Agriculture tour continued in Arizona, Monday. The journalists started the day at Caywood Cotton Farm, a fourth-generation, family-operated farming business located near Casa Grande, Arizona. In addition to an overview on the production of cotton and forage crops, the team tours and learns about water conservation in this part of the country, how farmers work to ensure food safety, and what types of challenges family farm owners currently face. They also filmed b-roll of the cotton fields, and demonstrations of some of the equipment used on the farm.
They spent the afternoon at the Phoenix, Arizona-based, True Garden, an example of a vertical aeroponic food farm. CEO and Scientist, Troy Albright explained how this first-of-its-kind facility, operated by solar power, was designed with a vision to drastically reduce the region’s agricultural water consumption, while making local, living produce available year-round in the hot desert regions of the Southwest US.
The Uzbekistan Agriculture tour continued in Northern California with a visit to the Manas Ranch and Peach orchard. The Manas Peach Farm has been in Yolo County since 1980’s and grows apricots and six varieties of peaches, processes and packs on-site. The team met with owner Fred Manas for a tour and overview of his operations. The group spent the afternoon at the California Agriculture Museum, home to the nation’s most unique collection of tractors and historic farm artifacts. They paid a visit to working certified organic Vegetable farm, Good Humus Produce. A small unique family farm, owned and run by Jeff and Annie Main since 1976. Jeff provided a tour and discussed the how nature takes control, so he doesn’t have use pesticides or chemicals, and how the Capay Valley community that eats the food supports the farm.
The Uzbekistan Ag journalist visited the University of California Davis: (UC Davis), the No. 1 ranked university in the U.S. for agriculture has 28 majors in environmental, human and animal sciences. They toured the Vineyard, 160 acres of grapes and got an overview from PhD student Karla Huerta on the drought and bacteria resistant research being conducted to cure disease using grape vine breeding. They group spends the afternoon at the new campus sustainable winery to learn about operations of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certified facility.
The group spent the late afternoon touring the UC Davis Olive Center for a demonstration and overview of the self-funded center’s efforts to provide olive research and education to students, industry and consumers.
On Friday, the team visited the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility In Winters, CA. This unique 300-acre facility is dedicated to investigating irrigated and dry-land agriculture. Nichole Tautges, Cropping Systems Research Manager provides tour and discusses research on crop rotation, farming systems (conventional, organic and mixed) and inputs of water, nitrogen/fertilizer, carbon and other elements on agricultural sustainability.
In the afternoon the team returned to UC Davis’ to visit the Horticulture Innovation demonstration lab. The global research network tests new horticultural tools, like the ‘solar dryer’ for food safely and advances best practices for growing fruits and vegetable, particularly innovations helpful to empower small-scale farmers in developing countries, to earn more income while better nourishing their communities.
On Saturday, the last day of production, the Uzbekistan Ag hybrid journalists visit a California Certified Farmers Market operated by CUESA, (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture). Their largest consumer market, Ferry Plaza Farmers market, with more than 100 vendors, is held at San Francisco’s landmark Ferry Building. Certified Farmers Markets are locations certified by the Agricultural Commissioner to sell agricultural products directly to consumers, conduct free educational programs, such as the CUESA Classroom by local chefs to learn more about ‘’Farm to table,” while deepening an understanding of sustainable food systems.
The journalist also filmed stand-ups at the Bay Bridge pier, capture b-roll on the streets of San Francisco, The Embarcadero and the foggy Golden Gate bridge area.