Farmers in Tajikistan Able To Water Crops During Dry Season

CARE enables farmers to pool resources and knowledge
CONTACT: Amy Lynn O'Toole, (404) 681-4579, ext. 383

ATLANTA (January 19, 2000) - Farmers in Tajikistan now have better access to water for crops thanks to a second irrigation system recently installed by the international relief and development organization CARE. The latest system will give farmers in the village of Isamboy - in River Valley near the border of Uzebekistan - a way to keep their crops irrigated, particularly during the dry season.

"Tajikistan is more than 80 percent mountains so CARE targeted the most arable land in the southern part of the country for the farming project," explains Nita Hassan, CARE's program officer for Asia. "The irrigation system is part of CARE's comprehensive program to help to improve the lives of the growing number of farmers in Tajikistan."

Previously government owned, land in Tajikistan was privatized after the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The economy has yet to recover from the transition and resulting civil war, leaving doctors and other professionals, as well as those previously employed in trade and production, unable to find jobs. These former professionals are now turning to farming as a means of supporting their families.

To help new and veteran farmers alike maximize their agricultural production, CARE is providing much-needed equipment and training in addition to the irrigation systems. With guidance from CARE, more than 1,000 farmers have formed an association to pool their resources and expanding knowledge.

Sixty regional mini-associations - each consisting of 20 farmers, a team leader and a CARE facilitator - meet monthly to discuss production and seek suggestions from the group. CARE staff provides leadership training and technical assistance.

"To overcome the lack of credit and banking systems in Tajikistan, the association forms a pool of funds for members," says Hassan. "CARE teaches the concepts of credit and lending as a means of strengthening overall production and profitability."

"The associations have enabled the farmers to evaluate their needs themselves and to develop the decision-making skills necessary to identify solutions," adds Hassan.

CARE plans to work on additional irrigation projects later this year in southern Tajikistan to help improve crop quality and yield.

CARE is one of the world's largest private relief and development organizations, with projects in more than 60 countries. CARE has been working in Tajikistan since 1992. Program areas include agriculture, civil society strengthening and food distribution to vulnerable people.