Artur Egemberdiev

“I am happy that the illegal fishing days for me and my friends are over.”


Artur Egemberdiev once felt he had no choice but to rely on illegal fishing to feed his family of seven. He lives in central Kyrgyzstan, in a small, rural town on the banks of the Toktogul reservoir in Jalal-Abad province.

“It is difficult to find a decent job in our area, especially one that can be close to your heart,” Artur says.

As fish stocks were depleted, Artur’s family often went hungry, but his life has changed dramatically.

Artur now operates a legitimate, fish farming business with the help of an FAO project funded by the Government of Finland.

In 2014, FAO launched a fish farming project in the area to improve livelihoods, income and nutrition. Through the project, Artur and other fishermen formed a small aquaculture cooperative.

The fishermen received training and materials to build a small fish hatchery and a feed manufacturing plant. They started a business to supply trout fingerlings and fish feed to local farmers.

“Every day, we carefully hatch the eggs, and grow them to sell to farmers across Southern Kyrgyzstan and, of course, we keep a few for ourselves.”       

With technical support from the project, Artur also started to grow crops like maize, mustard seed and peas for fish feed. He has since used his acquired expertise to help new fish farmers in the area.

When COVID-19 came to Kyrgyzstan and forced many people in his area to go without income or food, Artur and his colleagues used the profits from their business to help his local community.

“The cooperative bought food and household supplies for 26 of the poorest local families,” he said. “These were single parent families, families with disabilities, families headed by grandparents, and those whose main bread winners were unable to work during the crisis.”


This food hero is proud to be doing his part to improve food security, at home and in his community.