During the seven decades of the Soviet Union (SU), the irrigated farming areas in Central Asia became some of the largest in the world. Though highly lucrative due to the cultivation of cotton, the introduced agricultural practices ended up being the cause of severe environmental degradation. The loss of the natural resources base during the SU period could not be arrested despite post-independence reforms. The Khorezm region, covering part of the lower reaches of the Amudarya River, is a typical example of this phenomenon, with land users and managers struggling to find efficient and environmentally friendly options for sustaina.ble management of land and ·water resources. These "sustainable intensification" options must, on the one hand, help reverse land degradation and, on the other hand, ensure sufficient production to meet increasing demands and secure livelihoods. In 2000, the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn accepted the offer from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to develop and implement a research and education program to serve as an example of international cooperation in the field of higher education in Uzbekistan. The aim was to address the necessary restructuring of the economic and ecological management of this Aral Sea region. The development of governance and incentive structures as well as sustainable intensification measures that spare the natural resources base, yet provide for sustainable livelihoods, were the overarching goals pursued through an interdisciplinary program. This approach implied realigning the land and water resources in such a way as to render farming profitable, sustainable, and acceptable to the local land users and managers. Policy makers are facing tough decisions in forging this transition and accommodating the concerns of producers and environmentalists alike. This chapter summarizes the overarching findings of the last phase of this project, and concludes with the lessons learned over a decade of research and educational activities.
John P. A. Lamers, Asia Khamzina, Inna Rudenko, Paul L. G. Vlek (Ed.). 2015. Restructuring land allocation, water use and agricultural value chains : Technologies, policies and practices for the lower Amudarya region. 15-30