FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Quality seed is the key to higher yields

Bread is the staple food in the Republic of Tajikistan, and growing wheat is the traditional occupation of dehkan, or farmers, here. Boosting the grain yields of dehkan and improving national food security are a priority on which FAO is providing support.

During the Soviet period, Tajikistan’s agricultural sector was oriented mainly towards cotton production. Raw cotton was transported to other countries for their textile industries.

Since gaining independence in 1991, Tajikistan’s national policy has given high priority to ensuring food security. The state allocated more land to farmers and the rural population.

Increasing local production of food, especially grains, became a key component of the agricultural transformation. FAO has been providing policy advice and other forms of support aimed at making Tajikistan and the region as a whole more food-secure.

Tajikistan’s grain production in recent years has exceeded 1.3 million tons, with wheat accounting for 80 to 85 percent. Grain yields remain low compared to potential, however. The problem is being addressed by selecting high-yield varieties and producing certified seed.

Since 2012, FAO in cooperation with the Government of Austria has been active with a project entitled “Improving Access of Small Farmers to High Quality Seed Material.” It aims to address food security and poverty reduction through support to the development of a seed industry in Tajikistan.

Together with the Seed Association of Tajikistan (SAT), the Ministry of Agriculture also collaborated, involving more than 550 small farms in ten districts of Khatlon Oblast (Kulob, Muminobod and Shurobod) and Central Tajikistan (Hissor, Vahdat, Fayzobod, Roghun, Nurobod, Rasht and Tojikobod).

Activities have included development of local wheat seed production through the testing of different varieties and improving quality control services. During training sessions conducted by FAO specialists, farmers were introduced to new varieties and updated agricultural technologies.

Threshers were provided for small-scale farmers to process their harvest, along with knapsack sprayers and protective clothing for the safe application of herbicides.

Demonstration plots and participating farmers’ fields were seeded to compare local and foreign varieties. All project activities were designed to increase the production of quality seeds, with a focus on strengthening the links between seed farms (seed producers) and small farms (seed consumers).

A key achievement of the project was the official registration in 2014 of Yusufi and Sarvar wheat varieties. An additional six new varieties have been submitted for official testing as a result of breeding efforts.  

In 2014, the project is supporting efforts to diversify the country’s cropping systems, and develop seed production for alternative crops such as oilseed, forage and legume crops.

“Given its huge potential in agricultural development,” said FAO Representative in Tajikistan Viorel Gutu, “Tajikistan sets a great example in ensuring its food security objective through correct use of technologies, particularly seeds.”

 

19 January 2015, Dushanbe, Tajikistan