Uzbek farmers offered lemon trees and chickens

TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan's government plans to provide almost two million households with chickens and lemon trees so they can feed themselves and sell their produce, according to a draft document published for public discussion. The cabinet plans to set up specialized companies that will first supply households with poultry and seedlings and then buy eggs and lemons to export them. Uzbekistan's exports of fruit and vegetables, worth billions of dollars a year, are surging thanks to strong Russian demand, the government said last November, with the Central Asian country benefiting from Moscow's ban on imports from the West. Almost two-thirds of Uzbekistan's total population of 32 million live in rural areas and the government faces a challenge in providing employment for hundreds of thousands who have returned from Russia over the last few years due to economic problems there. The government's plan, outlined in a draft decree this month, includes providing 850 thousand households with 100 chickens each and helping another 1.07 million households and small farms to build greenhouses for 4.2 million lemon trees. (Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov)