The more I learn about farming in Tajikistan the more I wonder----between money lenders, input suppliers, the Water Department, cotton gins, the Electricity Department, the national government, local and district governments, even the Water Users Association---is there any group of people in Tajikistan that isn’t screwing farmers over. An example of how one can easily spend an entire day, or week, or month, or ten months, thinking themselves into a circle about the agriculture problems here----Irrigation infrastructure can’t be repaired farmers don’t have enough money to pay for rehabilitation. Why don’t they have money to pay for rehabilitation? One reason is that they grow cotton rather than food crops. Why do they grow cotton rather than food crops? Because, although the national government claims that farmers are free to grow whatever they want, they set annual quotas on how much cotton must be produced. Why does the government have to force farmers to grow cotton? Because growing cotton isn’t actually profitable. Why isn’t growing cotton profitable? One reason is that money lenders buy it for prices far below market value. How do money lenders get away with buying cotton for prices far below market value? One reason is that Tajikistan has their own grading system for cotton quality (most of the world goes off of the USDA grading system) so lenders can tell farmers that their cotton is of poorer quality than it actually is. Also because they let cotton sit around in gins before being processed so that the loans will accrue tons of interest. Why do cotton farmers continue to use money lenders when they screw them over like this? Because once they are already in debt for inputs they are forced to continue working with the same lender to pay back the debt. Why do they use these lenders in the first place then? Because their yields or low and they need money for seeds and fertilizer. Why are their yields low? One reason is that the land is salinized, eroded and otherwise degraded. Why is the land salinized, eroded, and otherwise degraded? Because the land tenure system makes it such that no one owns the land that they farm on so they have no incentive to take care of it and also makes it such that if they let the land fallow and recover the government could take it away from then under the grounds that they aren’t using it. Also because their irrigation systems are decrepit which leads to salinization, water waste, erosion, etc. Why are their irrigation systems decrepit? Because farmers don’t have money to fix it. Why don’t farmers have money to fix their irrigation infrastructure? One reason is that they grow cotton rather than food crops. Back to square one. Too many problems.