Members of the "Alisherbobo" Community Production Group chose to grow onions this season. The group plans to share some of their harvest among their members and to sell the rest on the market.
"We have grown 35 tons of onion per hectare of land. We shall use the income to bring new members into the group and plant more onion next year, as well," says the head of the group, Ochildi Anoqulov.
While some groups focus on growing crops, others raise livestock, like chickens and rabbits. The Parvina Community Production Group was given three rabbits. In one year, they managed to breed over 100 rabbits. They shared the young rabbits with other poor households, and still have plenty to breed and sell.
To make sure that groups are using best practices to increase land productivity, the project also provides technical advice. Local NGOs invite expert agronomists to talk about the importance of diversification and rational use of land and inputs. Training sessions have helped groups open up and share their knowledge of planting and harvesting. As a result their crop yields have doubled in the past two years.
The project also aims to sustain and increase crop productivity and diversification through Community Seed Funds where seeds are processed and stored. Each group returns to the seed storage bank up to 125% of what they received at the outset. Using the multiplier effect, the seed bank increases available seeds and agricultural inputs, and helps to establish new production groups to benefit from their use.
Substantial progress has been achieved to date. Yields in targeted districts are higher than the national average—25.7 tons of potatoes per hectare compared with the national average of 19.1 tons. Wheat yields are 3.5 tons per hectare compared with the national average of 2.1 tons. Thanks to produce sales, household income in the targeted districts is about $170, up from $18 before the project’s start. In addition, a network of private fertilizer dealers is being established to revive and stabilize the supply of fertilizer, especially for crops other than cotton.
As rural Tajik households produce more and diversify their crops, they are eating better and earning more. And as their standard of living rises, so does their confidence in the future.