“I worked day and night on my land,” says Hamza, a potato farmer from Khatlon, “but our markets have only local seed potatoes available, which are susceptible to many diseases. A large portion of the harvest was of low quality, and we were not able to eat it, nor sell it or use it for the next crop.”
Hamza joined one of the Agriculture Inputs Revolving Funds (AIRFs) set up by AKF and USAID in partnership with communities. Run by the villages’ existing agricultural committees, these provide pools of money that can be used by farmers to buy supplies like seeds and fertiliser. The farmers also receive training on seed selection, production practices and post-harvest handling and storage.
AKF and USAID worked with the local farmers to select and procure Bigrossa potato seeds, which grow well in Tajikistan and are less susceptible to disease. Hamza received 100 kg of seed potato, which he cultivated on three acres of his land using his agronomic training. “This produced 900 kg of high-quality potatoes,” he said. “We have stored 150 kg of seed potato for the next crop season, sold 300 kg and received a good income, and are now using the 330 kg as food for my family. To continue the AIRF and support other local farmers I returned 120 kg of seed potato to the AIRF. Now I am certain that even if there will be food shortages or the food price goes up any time, we will have potatoes available for family consumption, storing crops for next season and income-generating sales.”
AKF has implemented 600 irrigation schemes to date, whereby canal networks managed by the local water user associations divert water from rivers to fields via smaller channels. These have improved land management and raised farming productivity, helping around 720,000 people increase their food and income security.
The irrigation canal in Shamtuch Village, Sughd was built in Soviet times from stones and mud. Mr Murod, the current group leader of the irrigation canal builders, explained that 70 percent of the water drained into the land along the way, with the rest taking four hours to reach its destination.
Under a natural resources management programme funded by the European Union and AKF in 2022, construction materials were provided for the villagers to build a 400-metre concrete canal. Mr Murod says that it now waters 50 hectares of fields in an hour. The residents have received funding for a further 300 metres and are also building a road alongside the new canal, shortening schoolchildren’s daily commute to school in the neighbouring village of Qarqtuda.