Across Central Asia, the harshest winter since 2008 is leading to shortages of staple vegetables. Prices are going up north in a region that is still suffering from Covid-induced food inflation. In Uzbekistan, record frosts have highlighted the shortcomings of the national energy system as even residents of the capital spent days on end without power. But the cold has also hammered the agriculture sector in the region’s most populous country.
On January 20, the Uzbek agriculture minister announced a four-month ban on exports of onions after prices doubled in three weeks. Kazakhstan last week followed Uzbekistan’s lead in banning exports of root vegetables. The Ministry of Trade and Integration on January 22 said that prices for Kazakh onions had risen more than 5 percent in the space of a week.