Tajik Farmers Increase Income through Decreased Losses and Increased Prices
Written October 2011
“As a result of assistance from the USAID Productive Agriculture Project, I increased my income, which enabled me to contribute more to the education of my grandchildren. Now they can go to school well-dressed and with improved supplies. With the extra money I earn, I also plan to purchase a tunnel dryer to further improve my PHH processes. I am deeply thankful to the USAID Productive Agriculture Project for this opportunity.” – Kholiqova Zaynabkhon
Kholiqova Zaynabkhon, a farmer from the Isfara district of Sughd region in Tajikistan, owns a one hectare (ha) apricot orchard. Income for her 14-member family is heavily dependent on the sale of dried apricots from the orchard. Prior to her participation in the Apricot Post-Harvest Handling Program of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Productive Agriculture in Tajikistan Project, Zaynabkhon would use a stick to remove apricots from trees, dry them on cellophane or on the ground and use traditional sulfur smoking methods to preserve the fruit. These practices led to significant post-harvest losses and a severe decrease in the quality of the fruit due to exposure to weather and overheating. According to Zaynabkhon, she lost approximately 70 percent of her apricot harvest each year and the price of her apricots on the market had to be reduced because of the damage sustained by the fruit during the post-harvest handling (PHH) process. IFDC implements the Intensify Farm Productivity (IFP) component of the project, which includes the Apricot Post-Harvest Handling Program.
In 2011 Zaynabkhon joined the Apricot Post-Harvest Handling Program, which included an educational component and an opportunity to put the knowledge into practice through a voucher program. Zaynabkhon actively participated in a two-day training class on modern methods of PHH, which included drying apricots on pallets to allow proper air flow and sulfur smoking using specially designed sulfur ‘houses’ to prevent diseases and sustain quality. As part of the voucher program, Zaynabkhon and 200 other Tajik apricot farmers purchased 20 drying pallets and 50 boxes from local suppliers at a 40 percent discount.
After using her new PHH materials and the knowledge gained from the training, Zaynabkhon reported that her post-harvest losses have been reduced from 70 percent to 10 percent. She also reported increased prices for her apricots in the market; this year her apricots fetched between 14-16 Tajikistani Somoni (TJS) per kilogram (kg) [1 TJS equals US $0.21.] compared with last year’s price of 6-8 TJS per kg. Zaynabkhon told staff from the USAID Productive Agriculture Project that she plans to use this increased income to pay for her grandchildren’s education and to continue improving the quality of her dried apricots by adopting additional PHH techniques, such as tunnel drying, which was also demonstrated by the project.