FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO, EU provide 60 tonnes of potato seeds to Tajik farmers

Today, FAO concluded the distribution of 60 tonnes of high quality potato seeds to two farmer cooperative unions as part of a European Union-funded project in Tajikistan. The activity helps build small producers’ capacity and improve their livelihoods in northern Shahristan and central Nurobod districts.

Seed potato value chains in Tajikistan are experiencing multiple burdens. Those include challenges of poor quality, hampered import supply due to COVID-19, combined with increased seed demand ahead of the planting season. Quality potato seeds are limited in availability come at a high price; in addition, lack of access to pesticides, fertilizers and other inputs, prevent farmers from obtaining a higher return.

“Under the EU project, we are constantly looking for new initiatives in the agricultural sector, such as linking to research and financial institutions, to help farmers meet challenges and explore opportunities,” said Oleg Guchgeldiyev, FAO Representative in Tajikistan. “This, together with further integrating seed production into the private sector, would benefit cooperative members in the long term.”

The cooperative unions that received Red Scarlet potato seeds from the Netherlands, incorporate altogether over 120 farmers as members. As they promote potato seed banks, local farmers will have an opportunity to learn about innovative approaches for producing potato seeds and will be introduced to the GLOBAL GAP system – a voluntary food safety standard.

As pointed out by the European Union Head of Delegation, Ambassador Josefson, this initiative forms part of the EU’s response to address the social-economic impact that the global COVID-19 pandemic has on Tajikistan. The provision of high yield potato seeds for small-scale farmers will not only contribute to increased productivity of the potato value chain, the potatoes produced will be available for local consumption, which will improve food security of rural populations.

“We support private seed production through cooperative development. Cooperatives should become a staple element in the potato seed production chain, enabling farmers to own and control, on a democratic basis, business enterprises procuring their supplies and services, and marketing their products,” he noted.

The EU-funded project is supporting Tajikistan’s agriculture reform programme, which aims to foster farmers’ economic and social growth, and support; it also encourages the development and establishment of effective and efficient cooperative unions. This, in turn, could lead to national structures that represent the interests of their shareholders at all levels of agricultural management.

Under ongoing agricultural reform, providing technical support and access to agriculture input supplies and services, as well as access to high quality seeds for farmers, help advance production, sales, and exports that raise rural incomes. In order to assist the severe lack of agriculture input supplies, including access to high quality seeds and services, FAO anticipates to deliver a total of 80 tonnes of high quality, elite potato seed to farmers, with an expected output of 1 000 tonnes in the upcoming agricultural season.

GLOBALGAP is a voluntary food safety standard required by many supermarket chains in Europe. These standards are relevant to farmers as they cover the agricultural production process, from inputs to the farm gate.

8 May 2020, Dushanbe, Tajisistan