World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has fired his agriculture minister and a large number of farming officials after the former Soviet country failed to meet its wheat output target, sending bread prices sharply higher.
Berdymukhamedov, who enjoys a rising personality cult in the central Asian nation of 5.5 million, sacked Agriculture Minister Merdan Bairamov "for grave dereliction of his duties" during a government meeting late on Friday, official media reported on Saturday.
A large number of lower-ranking local agriculture officials has also been sacked nationwide.
Turkmenistan, the most arid of the 15 former Soviet republics with most of its territory lying in the Kara Kum desert, had originally planned to harvest 1.6 million tonnes of wheat this year after falling short of a similar target in 2011.
The country's actual wheat crop totaled 1.3 million tonnes in 2011, down 7 percent from 1.4 million in 2010 when it became a wheat exporter for the first time.
Local state-controlled media reported that, with this year's crop nearing completion, the nation has to date harvested just slightly over 1 million tonnes of wheat.
Turkmenistan's High Control Chamber, which reviews the work of various ministries, said much of this year's harvest had not been properly stored and was just "lying under the sky".
News of a bad crop coincided with a three-fold rise in bread prices in local shops on Friday. The state, which regulates the price of the staple, has not made any comment on the increase.
In the capital Ashgabat, a loaf of bread jumped to about 21 U.S. cents, the same as a litre of gasoline in the energy-rich country which holds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves and owns ample reserves of crude.
Only one of Turkmenistan's five regions has met its harvest target, leading Berdymukhamedov to give its administration a Cadillac limousine as a gift, local media said.
In Soviet days, Turkmenistan produced annually some 70,000 tonnes of wheat and depended almost entirely on wheat deliveries from other Soviet republics. Annual domestic wheat consumption stands at about 1.2 million tonnes.
Two former U.S. soldiers testified at the pre-trial hearing of a one-time comrade charged with killing two unarmed Iraqi boys
U.S. officials have grown increasingly impatient with what they describe as Russia's failure to live up to its commitments in an April 17 agreement reached in Geneva to try to de-escalate the crisis
Congress will need to approve the move before it goes through.
The pictures, flowers and spaces are banked up the entire wall of a gymnasium near Danwon High School in Ansan, on the outskirts of Seoul.
Zhang Zhiru's brief detention underscores nervousness among officials about the strike, which began on April 14 at a Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd shoe manufacturing complex that employs some 40,000 workers
On Wednesday, Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement that aims to end years of division between the two factions.
Two weeks of scouring the Indian Ocean floor with a U.S. Navy submersible drone had turned up no wreckage.
The winner of the race will inherit a strong but slowing growth rate in the country and will oversee the completion of a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal
The Fallujah dam was recently seized by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) group, which took control of large swathes of the city last December.
Pacific nation that was site of 67 nuclear tests between 1946 and 1958 accuses states of 'flagrant denial of human justice'
The two core EU nations' top diplomats affirmed plans to speed up the signing of a deal to boost trade and political ties
Abdel Aziz came to power in an army coup in 2008, won an election the next year and is a Western ally
In a sign of further delays to restart vital oil exports from the volatile east, rebels said the Tripoli government had failed to fulfil its part of the accord reached this month.
Hamid Babaei, spokesman for Iran's U.N. mission in New York, vehemently rejected U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power's remarks
Kiir had accused the four detainees - a former ruling party official, national security minister, deputy finance minister and ambassador to Washington - of fomenting a coup
The Pentagon criticized Russia's military drills near the border with Ukraine, while Russia demands U.S. stop Ukraine's military operation