AKF Helps Tajik Farmers Take Environmental Solutions to Increase Their Yields


Tajikistan’s National Development Strategy (NDS) for the period to 2030 lists the “protection and sustainable use of natural resources to ensure further economic and social development” amongst “the main objectives and crucial conditions for sustainable human development”.

The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) notes that from increasing biodiversity to reducing water wastage, some farmers from the Tajik northern province of Sughd have found numerous ways to improve their environment and mitigate the effects of climate change, while increasing productivity in regions where arable land is precious.

Sarazm-Shurnova village in Panjakent specializes in grapes, which require warm temperatures and plenty of water.  However, the impact of climate change has had a devastating impact in the region by increasing the length of hot summer days and causing water scarcity.

There is ample water from rain, melting snow and glaciers during winter and spring.  The villagers have received support to build water reservoirs.  These collect and store up to 25,000 liters of water to be used for irrigation during the drier late spring and summer months.  The reservoirs are 65 percent financed by the AKF-established Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP), with the communities contributing in cash and in kind to cover the remaining costs.

MSDSP reportedly gave 1,500 seedlings to share, along with compost, fences and concrete.  The trees and shrubs are native to other parts of Tajikistan and include apricots, mulberries, raspberries and pears.  The recipients are observing the trees to see which are best adapted to the climate, before replanting them in their gardens and selling the fruit.

Farmers cultivating potatoes and other crops relied on irrigation canals that would bring water to the surrounding fields.  But during the rainy season, floods often washed these away.  They were attending a potato cluster meeting, where groups of potato producers can share best practices, when an AKF engineer proposed a solution.

The construction of the solid banks was finalized in 2022, with AKF providing 75 percent of the finance. 

AKF notes that three years ago, residents of Sufiyon village, Panjakent, were using chemical fertilizers to produce high fruit and vegetable yields. Then Hanifa Sharipova and her daughter Mahtob saw a TV advertisement about vermicompost.  This organic fertilizer is made from Red Californian worms breaking down waste.  Haydar Ashourov, Hanifa’s husband, saw some worms at the market and successfully experimented with them at home, replacing chemical fertilizer for his tomatoes, bell peppers and other vegetables.

Observing the efficiency of the biohumus, the family decided to breed the worms and sell them to other farmers in the region.  Haydar received Integrated Rural Development project funding from the European Commission and GIZ, implemented via MSDSP.  With the resulting water reservoir, walk-behind tractor, cement and water meter, he built a 22-meter-long concrete pool filled with grass, cow manure and soil.  This would become a home for thousands of Red Californian worms for the next six months.  He sells the worms for 1,900 somonis ($190) for eight boxes.

Haydar wants others to care about the environment too, and demonstrates his compost in schools. “Our community should eat fresh, pure and clean vegetables and fruits – this is my mission and goal.”

Source: Asia Plus