Written in August 2011
Farmer inspects healthy tomato plants in Hoji Mirzo Ismailov’s greenhouse.
Hoji Mirzo Ismailov recently welcomed the regional governor and over 70 members of the local farming community to his greenhouses in northern Tajikistan to showcase his remarkable success in producing high-value greenhouse tomatoes. Ismailov is a partner of the Productive Agriculture Project in Tajikistan, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Implemented by IFDC, the Productive Agriculture Project seeks to increase the income of farmers through their adoption of agricultural best practices as taught by IFDC.
A leader in his community, Ismailov strives to influence change and development not only as the head of the district’s religious council but also as an innovative entrepreneur. Leveraging his fluent Arabic, he teaches in the local madrasa and also started a successful business trading products with a variety of Middle Eastern countries. After observing the high prices that greenhouse tomatoes can demand in the market, Ismailov decided to expand his entrepreneurial activities into the agricultural sector. In September 2010, he secured a $60,000 loan to begin construction of greenhouses and contacted the project to ask for technical assistance.
Since that time, the Productive Agriculture Project has assisted him to implement best growing practices that will result in high-quality tomatoes that fetch a premium price. Specifically, the project provided advice on the seed selection process, the use of combined fertilizers, application of pesticides and disease prevention to ensure the highest quality and yield possible. Ismailov also collaborated with the project to demonstrate the impact of best growing practices by comparing them with the more traditional farming methods used on small parts of his land. In a country where many farmers practice traditional growing techniques that result in low yields and low prices, demonstrating the results of best growing practices is a critical step for stimulating investment in the agricultural sector.
As a result of the collaboration, Ismailov expects to harvest 20 metric tons of premium tomatoes that will sell for 50 percent more than tomatoes grown using traditional methods. Summarizing the relationship, he said, “It has been a great opportunity to work with the USAID Productive Agriculture Project because we share similar goals to develop the agricultural sector in Tajikistan.” He plans to continue his partnership with the project by using four hectares of his own land to establish an agriculture education center that will catalyze the adoption of best practices and significantly increase the income of his fellow Tajik farmers.