Uzbekistan's government plans to provide almost two million rural households with chickens and lemon trees so that they can feed themselves and sell their produce. Laura Frykberg reports.
BROADCAST AND DIGITAL RESTRICTIONS~** Broadcasters: NONE Digital: NONE ** For 21-year-old university graduate, Gulsora Hasanova. These hens have helped her make a living.. (SOUNDBITE) (Uzbek) ECONOMICS COLLEGE GRADUATE, GULSORA HASANOVA, SAYING: "I got a loan to buy 300 hens. I get 250-260 eggs a day and sell them. My profit is around $30 a day." In a bid to crack Uzbekistan's high unemployment.. and boost its economy. The government is offering hundreds of thousands of households 100 chickens each... As a loan, or in the case of poorer families, for free. It's not putting all its eggs in one basket either.. More than a million households are also being helped to farm lemons.. As part of a trade deal with Turkey. (SOUNDBITE) (Uzbek) LOCAL AGRICULTURAL COMPANY OWNER, SOKHIBZHON TOZHIYEV, SAYING: "We've got a credit of $27,400 from a local bank to buy and then resell lemon trees. For now we've brought seven thousand lemon trees from Turkey." Almost two-thirds of Uzbekistan's 32 million people live in rural areas. Hundreds of thousands used to work in Russia - but were forced to return home to unemployment when sanctions were introduced. But Moscow's reduced access to the West has helped the country too... Russia now relies on Uzbekistan for much of its fruit and vegetables - an industry worth billions to the economy each year.