In Tajikistan: Empowering Rural Households to Farm Sustainably

January 11, 2013

Faridun Sanginov, Communications Assistant in the World Bank Office in Tajikistan, offers this story.

Farmers in rural areas of Tajikistan have had trouble growing enough food for themselves and their livestock in recent years. Bad weather led to poor crops. Low yields led to seed shortages, which meant there was less to plant the following year. Food in stores was often too expensive for people to buy. People in the Khatlon region were especially hard hit.

Under the Additional Financing to the Emergency Food Security and Seed Import Project, about 21,000 of the poorest households around Khatlon have reversed that situation through about 1280 community production groups. These groups of farmers are given seeds, fertilizers, and key agricultural inputs to boost yields, diversify crops and keep livestock. With support of the World Bank, the project aims to go beyond providing initial emergency farm aid . Through the community production group, it promotes private farming by empowering rural households to achieve food security in a sustainable way.

" 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. "
Ochildi Anoqulov

Ochildi Anoqulov

Head, "Alisherbobo" Community Production Group

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.