In Kyrgyzstan, the collective farms (Kolhozes and Sovhozes) were dissolved very quickly, which resulted in a huge number of smallholder family farms often lacking good access to machinery and other inputs. Agriculture shifted largely to subsistence agriculture to feed the households in the countryside, but also to support family members in the cities.

After the 1990s, when the Russian economy started to grow, people from Kyrgyzstan, but also from neighbouring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, began to migrate and take up work in Russia. There was a steady increase of remittances – in some years with annual growth rates of 50 per cent – until 2013, interrupted only shortly by the economic crisis in 2008. After 2013, Russia suffered from an economic crisis, which resulted in a significant reduction of migration and flow of money to Central Asia, in particular in Uzbekistan. From 2015 on, migration picked up again, and Kyrgyzstan has surpassed its former peak of 2013 with annual remittances of USD 2,485,778,060 in 2017 (see Figure).

Now Kyrgyzstan is the major origin of migrants to Russia, since the country joined the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union in August 2015.