Modern farm equipment reduces poverty in rural Tajikistan
IFAD, October 17, 2017 - Gavharbi Ahmadova and Faizov Kamarali are both from the Khatlon region in Tajikistan but from different villages. Although they have never met, they have a lot in common - they both struggle to sustain their families with a steady income through farming, an almost impossible task given the near absence of agricultural machinery with which to cultivate land and harvest crops on time.
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, October 17, places a spotlight on the challenges farmers like Ahmadova and Kamarali face, as well as solutions that can have a major impact on their lives and the lives of those in rural communities.
For many years, Kamarali provided food for his family of nine from his kitchen garden - a small plot of land attached to the main house where farmers typically grow fruits and vegetables and perhaps keep a dairy cow and chickens. The garden was also one of the main sources of income for his family, but it simply wasn't enough.
Gavharbi too faced similar problems and struggled to raise her eight children and provide for their wellbeing with the limited opportunities available in her village.
But then things changed for both Kamarali and Ahmadova, thanks to two IFAD-supported projects in the region - the Livestock and Pasture Development Project (LPDP) and the Khatlon Livelihoods Support Project (KLSP).
With the support from the KLSP, for example, the villagers where Ahmadova lives in Odinaboi (129 households farming about 270 hectares of non-irrigated land), purchased two tractors and additional farm equipment.
"The tractors obtained with the assistance of the project has simplified our work,” says Ahmadova sometime later. “This year we were able to cultivate all our lands on time, and our harvest of cereals and vegetables has been much greater.”
With some training, Ahmadova eventually became the accountant for the Odinaboi Village Organization that manages the tractors and farm equipment. She keeps track of the use of the tractors, plans the work timetable and manages the income and expenses. The tractors are also rented out to neighboring farms and communities to maximize the benefits. Ahmadova ensures everyone pays and gets paid on time, and that the tractors are used efficiently.
Ahmadova also regularly updates the villagers on the tractors’ movements and the profits available to invest in the village projects and provide support to the most vulnerable families.
She explains, “The annual income from machinery services has reached almost US$4,000. The decision was taken by the members of the village organization to use this to improve the orchards.”
Kamarali ’s experience in his village, Tuto, is similar – demonstrating the impact that modern farm equipment can have in raising rural families out of poverty. In his case, it was the IFAD-supported LPDP that enable his village to buy two tractors. For the first time, local farmers could farm their land more effectively and improve the village's infrastructure. Kamarali , who demonstrated his dedication to assisting the community to rise out of poverty, was elected by the village as the head of its Pasture Users Union, which constitutes 1,237 hectares of pasture lands, supporting 330 households or 1,257 people in the village.
To date, more than 100 tractors have been delivered to villages in the region through both IFAD-supported project. Notably, in the communities that have received tractors, agricultural production has increased by 20 per cent and post-harvest losses have been reduced by 30 per cent.
Celebrating their achievements, a smiling and proud Kamarali says, "Tractors - a simple but vital instrument to eradicate rural poverty, feed families and ensure livelihoods for the long term."