tajikistanWhen Tajikistan was under the Soviet Union, the country’s agricultural production was controlled by directives and quotas from the government. Agronomists assigned to the collective farms (Kolkhoz and Sovkhoz) provided extension and advisory services. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the ensuing civil war (1992-93) the country extension services are being provided today by a range of service providers: the public sector represented by the State extension officers, who are attached to the Ministry of Agriculture or to the regional or provincial governments; the private sector through private advisory services run by both international and domestic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private companies; Internal advice within collective Dehkon farms and non-privatized enterprises; and local forms of knowledge exchange and mutual consultation inside the Mahalla (Mandler, 2010).

History

A Brief History

The main trend in delivering extension services by donor funded projects is a “pay-per-service” approach ranging from being crop or livestock specific, expecting farmers to pay part of the full cost of advisory services, or attempting to recover these cost indirectly through input supply or micro-credit firms (Swanson et al., 2001). The resulting effect of this approach is that only a few progressive farmers with export market access are served and the vast majority of poor farm households, especially those headed by women farmers do not have access to extension services.

In Tajikistan, the structure of agricultural enterprises consists of highly interdependent farms of various sizes; big agricultural enterprises, private firms known as Dehkon farms and smallholders with household plots. A latest study for MoA by FAO claims that 45% of land has gone through reform process and 55% is waiting sub-division. Collective kolkhoz or sovkhoz successor enterprises still control most farmland with the bulk of rural population employed in these farms, and continue to produce in the kolkhoz manner. Farmers’ specialization within the kolkhoz and sovkhoz did not prepare them to take on farm business in a market system, therefore assigning agricultural extension and other forms of adult education a more important role to play in Tajikistan and former communist countries (van den Ban 1999: 121).

The agrarian reform underway in the republic gave a significant impetus to considerable institutional transformations in Tajikistan’s agricultural sector. The agricultural extension system in the country is very pluralistic but, collectively, impacts less than 10 percent of the farm households. Most small farmers operate within small and medium-scale Dehkan farms with very limited knowledge about farm management. For the Tajik government to effectively assist small scale farmers, a new public-private partnership be built through the current Family Farming Program (FFP) by scaling up and transforming the current public extension system to start becoming more farmer and market-driven (Swanson et al., 2011). The trained and experienced agricultural officers at the Rayon (district) and Jamoat (sub-district) levels are interested in providing advisory services to farmers in their respective areas. Yet they were trained in technical specific skills different form extension and agricultural offices at both the Rayon and Jamoats have little or neither physical nor financial resources. 

In order to transform current front-line extension workers, so they become more farmer-led and market driven, they will need more technical training and information about how small scale farmers can intensify and diversify their farming systems. They will need to learn how to organize and work with self-help and producer groups, so they can better connect farmers with a range of needed technical, marketing and micro-credit skills and knowledge.  

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Extension Providers

Major Institutions Providing Extension/advisory Services

Public Sector

In Tajikistan, the public sector that provide little if any advisory services to  Dehkan farms is represented by the Ministry of Agriculture, local government or councils (Hukumats) universities and research institutions around the country. MOA has agricultural administrative personnel at the national, Oblast (province) and Rayon (district) levels, and the local government has received government approval to add one agronomist at the Jamoat (sub-district) level. These institutions provide extension services through various departments councils and institutes some of which are listed below:

Public Extension Institutions

  • Ministry of Agriculture (MOA
    • Public Agricultural Offices at the Rayon (district) and Jamoat (sub-district) Levels
  • Agricultural Information Service of Tajikistan (AIST
    • Center of Information and Press

Public Research and Education Institutions

  • National Agricultural Training Center (NATC)
  • Tajik Agrarian University

Non-Public Sector

Private Sector Firms

The private sector has always partnered with the government institutions to bring innovative techniques to farmers. Private sector firms are known to contribute to agricultural production through organized markets and channels for seed, fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers. In Tajikistan, private sector organizations include input supply dealers and advisory services providers. These institutions work with local financial institutions to provide credit to farmers and sometime contract with NGOs to provide technical advises to farmers, farmer groups, farmer associations and cooperatives; organize farmers groups to facilitate export of commercial crops.  Below is a list of projects and NGOs that are working with private sector, like input suppliers, exporters and processors. 

  • Tajikistan Agricultural Finance Framework (TAFF)
  • Family Farming Project (FFP) implemented by DAI
  • Productive Agricultural Project (PRO-APT) Implemented by ACDI-VOCA
  • Rural Growth Project – AFC Consultants International
  • Local Market Development (LMD)
  • Sugd AgroServe Consulting 
  • Agency for Support Development Process (ASDP)
  • Advisory Information Network (AIN)
  • National Association of Dehkan farms (NADF)

Non-Governmental Organizations and other Donors

The need to support the agricultural sector stems from the vital role agriculture plays in Tajikistan economy. Agricultural sector accounts for one third of the National GDP. NGOs and other private advisory services provider are assisting the government in providing agricultural information and innovative technology to farmers. Many NGOs (local and international) are assisting farmers in various capacities. They help farmers organize in self-help groups and assist them with agronomic and farming systems approach to growing food and export crops. Some NGOs specialize in organizing farmers to access markets for inputs and produce and also facilitate access to credits. Some of the NGOs working directly in the agricultural sector and local extension services include:

  • Agricultural Training and Advisory Center (ATAC)
  • EHIO implemented by Institute of Cultural Affairs
  • Agency for Support Development Process (ASDP)
  • Advisory Information Network (AIN)
  • Zarzamin
  • Jovid
  • Mehrangesh NGO
  • Ghamkhori NGO
  • Africare
  • CARE International
  • Christian Relief Service
  • Agrodonish , Association of Extension Organizations in Tajikistan

Farmer Based Organizations and Cooperatives

In many developing countries, the agricultural sector is made up of a large number of smallholder farmers who are disadvantaged in accessing inputs, extension services and markets for their produce. In Tajikistan there is a great variety of organizational schemes for farming plants, resulting from the privatization of the large state farms of the Soviet period and of the consecutive regrouping of smaller farms into cooperatives, associations, self-help groups or other farmer’s organizations with various levels of coordination and pooling of production means. These farmer’s associations at Rayon level are essential for dissemination of information to farmers, providing new farmers with assistance. For land reform to work there must be some organization of farmers at the grassroots level and these farmers association are created to facilitate exchange between farmers and legal institutions. The National Associations of Dehkahn Farms (NADF), present in most areas, are often actively engaged in assisting farmers who want to farm independently.  Unfortunately this group is weakened by their lack of financial support.  Most members volunteer to assist other farmers because of their commitment to private farming.

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Tajikistan. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.

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Enabling Environment

Enabling Environment.

The disarray of Tajikistan’s traditional relations with the former Soviet Union republics, the political turmoil and concurrent natural disasters all severely hit material and technical supplies to the agricultural sector. Agriculture is Tajikistan’s major sector endowed with considerable resources and production potential. The geographic and climatic environment makes it possible for Tajikistan to cultivate virtually all agricultural crops: cereals, legumes, cotton, tobacco, geranium, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, grapes, citrus plants, etc. Pastures and hayfields (accounting for 80 per cent of its farmland) open the way for developing cattle raising based on natural fodder supplies. Despite the country natural endowment in resources, many constraints to extension and agricultural production are assessed. Due to Tajikistan’s mountainous geography, it is difficult to communicate in general. Innovation in agriculture are massively hindered, as farmer potentials to decide and act independently are very limited, and it is also argued that difficulties in communication and the implementation of innovations are major constraints to advisory services. The current work force needed to play a key role in extension and advisory service delivery is not properly trained for the job.  A series of in-service training is needed to prepare extension personnel to handle the task. Another major drawback to advisory services in Tajikistan at the moment that need an immediate solution is the local governance interference in both farmers’ communicative intervention and their exposure to innovation (Mandler, 2010).

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ICT

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension 

Several ICT tools (e-mail, internet, mobile phone, radio, TV, print) commonly used in different parts of the world are found in Tajikistan today. Mobile services have been introduced in Tajikistan and spread very rapidly to all parts of the country including rural areas. In order to benefit from these new ICT technologies, Agricultural Information Service of Tajikistan and SAS in northern Tajikistan are both interested in establishing an expanded market network, but they lack the needed financial resources to design and develop the most efficient and reliable way of making this market information easily available to small-scale men and women farmers across Tajikistan (Swanson et al, 2011). Virtually no farmers have internet access to find and read extension information even though a 2009 World Bank statistics report indicated that 10.1 percent of the population of Tajikistan had access to internet. It is argued that difficulties in communication and the implementation of innovations are major constraints to advisory services.

The key to getting small-scale farmers knowledgeable about markets, where they can sell their products, is to strengthen their access to market information through the appropriate type of communication technology, starting with mass media (i.e. radio and television) and eventually making available daily market information via SMS using their mobile phones (Swanson, 2011). Unfortunately, daily market information is not available and it will take some time to establish a market information system like Esoko, and to routinely obtain commodity specific information from many markets across Tajikistan and then train farmers how to access and use this market information. It is argued that difficulties in communication and the implementation of innovations are major constraints to advisory services. Innovative ICT based approaches that utilize internet connection have the advantage of providing advice to farmers on-line and mobile phones help farmers’ access information instantly via SMS.

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Training

Training for Extension Professionals

Training agricultural professional increases the skills of extension staff in the field, and the lack of continuing education opportunities could constitute a drawback to agricultural extension agents’ performance. In Tajikistan, there is no training at the Tajik Agrarian University (TAU) about the needed “extension process” skills that the front-line extension and advisory workers must have to deliver effective advisory services to farmers (Swanson, 2011). In addition, extension worker also lack the skills to organize self-help groups (SHGs), although this area of expertise is a major gap in helping strengthen the pluralistic extension system in Tajikistan and making it more “farmer-led” and “market driven”. All agricultural officers providing extension services at the Rayon and Jamoats levels were trained in specific technical skills such as agronomy, animal science, agricultural economics or veterinary medicine, and therefore need some form of in-service training to be more effective in the field. This gap in training is sometimes filled by other partners providing extension services. It is reported that in some donor funded projects there is limited in-service training about some of the skills (how to organize self-help groups) extension officers need. Also, the National Agricultural Training Center (NATC) reported that 10 years ago it offered a course on extension methods, but nothing has been done since then in terms of teaching process skills to field extension workers (Swanson, 2011). 

Agriculture advisory services are considered as promoter of productivity, but are not adequately developed in Tajikistan. Often the available expertise causes little economic effects, and despite various efforts to enhance learning and information sharing, farmers overall access to knowledge and options to exchange and use knowledge are weak (Mandler, 2010). Thus, there is a need for short term in-service training, especially in these process skills. Also, these same pre-services training courses should be introduced into the academic curriculum at Tajik Agrarian University  

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Statistics

Statistical Indicators

Tajikistan                                                                                                                   Year

Agricultural land (sq km)

47,270

2008

Agricultural land (% of land area)

33.8

2008

Arable land (hectares)

738,000

2008

Arable land (% of land area)

5.27

2008

Arable land (hectares per person)

0.11

2008

Fertilizer consumption (per ha of arable land)

29

2007

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

22.4

2009

Food production index (1999-2001 = 100)

162

2009

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

 

2009

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

 

2009

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

700

2009

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)*

99.7

2009

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

99.9

2009

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

100

2009

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

87

2008

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

31.7

2007

 

53.7

2008

 

70.5

2009

Internet users (per 100 people)

7.2

2007

 

8.8

2008

 

10.1

2009

Population, total

6,952,223

2009

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

49.7

200

Rural population

5,111,274

2009

Rural population (% of total population)

73.5

2009

Agricultural population* 

1,960,000

2008

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

29

2008

Total economically active population in Agriculture*

768,000

2008

Total economically active population in Agriculture (in % of total economically active population)*

29

2008

Female economically active population in Agriculture (% of total active in agriculture)*

53

2008

Source: The World Bank, *Food and Agriculture Organization FAO

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References

References

Ban. D. van Den. 1999. Problems of Agricultural Extension in Developing and Former Communist Countries. In: B.S. Hansra (ed.), Globalizing Indian agriculture: Policies and strategies. New Delhi, Classical Publishing Company.

Mandler, A. 2010. Social and Political Context of Agriculture Advisory Services in The Republic of TajikistaRepublic of Tajikistan. In Challenges of Education and Innovation for Agricultural Development, Kelly Labar, Martin Petrick, Gertrud Buchenrieder (eds., 2010). Studies on the Agricultural and Food Sector in Central and Eastern Europe, Vol. ##, Halle (Saale), IAMO, pp.##-##.

Swanson, B., E. Meyer, and W. van Weperen. 2011. Strengthening the Pluralistic Extension and Advisory System in Tajikistan. Report on the MEAS Rapid Scoping Mission. Second Draft Submitted to USAID Mission/Dushanbe, November 25, 2011. Tajik version

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