Farmers in Development, Federation of Organic Development «Bio-KG»
Lead Organization: Association Federation of Organic Movement «Bio-KG»
Partner Organizations: Organic aymaks (groups of villages)
Location(s) of Work:
Issyk Kul region – Aral, Kun-Chygysh, Temir, Teplokluchenka, Tosor aymaks;
Chui region – Zhany Zher aymak.
Award: $100,000 over 8 months (2016)
This project develops a national network of organic aymaks (groups of farmers) to develop a system of self-assessment for organic farm production quality, productivity and income and it will create certification and production assessment systems. The collaboration joins local farmers who operate on an individual or collective basis in all seven regions of Kyrgyzstan.
Overall goal of the collaboration was to develop a system of self-assessment of organic farms production quality, productivity and income generation, as well as their development related to organic agriculture technologies introducing, with respect to national traditions and heritage. Objectives of collaboration are:
- To educate farmers of six selected organic aymaks in organic technologies, assessment of production quality (Participatory Guarantee System), measurement of expenses, productiveness and income of their farms, and organize monitoring of its indicators on annual basis. Target villages were five aymaks in Issyk-Kul region and one – in Chui region of Kyrgyzstan. 40 farmers from each aymak participate in education activity. Two mobilizers from each aymak will provide peer education to their neighbors. Results of self-assessment also were depersonalized, summarized and presented to stakeholders for better understanding of farmers’ situation and wise decisions related to agriculture development.
- To assess the availability and affordability to farmers of governmental and private services, including lab services, nurseries, test sites, and seeds delivery. To ensure that collected information is available to farmers in printed version. In this assessment, we also used participatory approach. Its results were available to governmental officials and businessmen who consider opportunities to suggest agricultural services to farmers.
- To support farmers who were going to present their production on annual Organic Fair. In particular, farmers got consultations in food safety, advertising, packaging, labeling, merchandizing, selling and other important issues related to marketing.
- To summarize farmers’ experience and present it on annual Congress of organic farmers, for future scaling up to all 7 regions of country. We disseminated final presentation among governmental officials and international organizations also.
Challenges that the Collaborative Faced(s)
- The main challenge of the collaborative is the lack of experience of self-assessment of organic farmers, the project partners. More, it should be taken into consideration, that Kyrgyzstan has no individual farming traditions, and, specifically, no traditions in crop and gardening. That is why individual farming and cooperation of individuals are something new practice here. In Kyrgyzstan, farmers have no place to learn how to manage individual farm, how to develop cooperation with neighbors and how build their strategies in the market. This project is unique opportunity to respond to external challenges.
- Among other challenges, we should mention: (1) climate changes. Last years, the summers in Kyrgyzstan become more hot and arid, than before. One of important reasons for this is the destruction of mountain glaciers by mining companies. Continuing aridity of climate makes agriculture more risky; (2) political and economical challenges. The recent accession of Kyrgyzstan to Eurasian Economic Union has opened up access to the local market with cheap products of low quality from Russia and Kazakhstan.
- Farmers of six organic aymaks in Issyk-Kul and Chui regions of Kyrgyz Republic were able to assess their farm (with Participatory Guarantee System), their production quality, to measure their expenses, productiveness and income of their farms, their selling experience, as well as their knowledge and skills in organic agriculture. People also understand clearly how traditional techniques and general attitudes toward nature help them to follow right way.
- All stakeholders – farmers, local government and state officials, businessmen and international organizations – see clearly the availability of needed agricultural services to the farmers and main gaps and opportunities in crop and livestock services development. In particular, it was expected that these knowledge would be used in campaign for local laboratories development.
- Organic farmers of Issyk-Kul and Chui regions purchased a new experience of participation in national trade fairs and better understand the needs of the market and the role of standards in improving the quality of products and increasing of revenue.
- Farmers' experience is documented carefully and available for all stakeholders for future planning. This outcome is an important part of institutional memory developing. The Federation «Bio-KG» plays role of knowledge bank, which accumulates achievements of individual farmers, systematize them, and make them usable for improving of organic agriculture as a system.
Impact of the collaborative activity was increasing of organic farms sustainability, based on improved understanding of farm success evaluation and management. This collaborative impacted more than 40,000 residents of organic aymaks - farmers and their families. More, collaborative activities let large circles of customers to use local organic products them for better quality of life for their families.
There is a farmer from one of organic aymaks. His name is Tilek. During one of the trainings, a coordinator of the project and Tilek had a discussion on which variety of the carrot is sweeter: yellow one or red one? In addition, the coordinator told that in northern part of the country red one is more popular, in southern yellow one. Tilek was from northern part. Moreover, he decided to experiment and planted yellow one. On the Annual Fair exhibition of organic products, Tilek had a tent with his products. And among them, there was a variety of yellow carrot named “Asan”. Asan was the coordinator’s name.