Voices from the fields

I write to you from Gurtepa kishlak of the Mingbulak district of Namangan region. While the President speaks about exporting agricultural produce and attracting investments to our country, the hokim [ed. – governor] of the Mingbulak district has verbally threatened fruit growers and destroyed 25 hectares of blossoming fruit trees. As of now, only 1-2 …

“I live in the Kaynarbulok district of Samarkand region. My husband bought 17 hectares of land in order to create a farm to grow mulberries. This land had been abandoned and there was no water supply. The local population used it as a rubbish tip. My husband spent a lot of money clearing the land, …

“Based on the order of the head of the district administration, the chief of the bank declared that staff should take part in this process one day before the start of the cotton cultivation season. We were told that everybody should go to the cotton fields every day by replacing each other every week. He …

“I’m the manager of a private firm which specializes in construction, employing about 30 people. If I’m not mistaken, I received a phone call from the city administration’s architecture department on 17th May. I was asked to visit them in connection with an urgent issue. I was there on time. The head of the department …

“Public work is compulsory. Those school directors and heads of kindergartens who fail to send staff to do such work are reprimanded by governors, heads of the education department and even by the deputy heads of governors – seriously. We do not receive additional payment for such work.”

“We have been working for three farms (the names of the farms have been withheld). We take care of the cultivation of the fields of these farms and during the wheat harvest we allocate workers to dig up the roots of cotton plants and last year we even bred silk worms. But this year we …

“How about payment?! Remember, I have already told you that teachers are involved in this work because they are a free workforce. During the cotton harvest they pay a little, but during the cotton cultivation, it is us who pay. They do not pay us for the field work. We pay for our food and …

“It is true that drinking water is a problem most of the time. We do not receive it in the field on time. Everybody brings their own food and water. We bring our own tools. There is a representative of the education directorate who makes sure that we do not have a rest. Doing field …

“Directors of schools decide who should go to the fields to dig up the roots of cotton plants and when. Teachers go because they are ordered to. In turn, directors receive orders from the head of the education directorate. The director of our school held a meeting at the end of April and announced that …

“In general, teachers are involved in everything. The teachers have taken on all sorts of duties: farming, construction, they visit families and collect money for public utility services, clean the surrounding areas of apartment blocks, do unpaid work – they are a free labor force. Teachers have no reputation in the neighborhoods. Everybody looks at …