FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Tajikistan’s rural women and youth increase resiliency against gaps left by labour migration

©FAO Tajikistan

04/03/2024, Dushanbe

Dilafruz Pakhlavonova is from Dusti district of Khatlon region of Tajikistan. 

When her husband migrated for work, she and her son were left in difficult circumstances. She was unemployed, relied on assistance from her mother, and she could not afford to send her son to school. 

Approximately ten percent of the Tajikistan’s population is working abroad. This income-driven migration has serious socioeconomic impacts such as divorce, labour shortages in agriculture, legal and financial issues, and increased hardships for rural women’s livelihoods. As women and youth take up the farm labour, previously done by the men who have migrated, they face challenges in how to manage time for farming, deficits of inputs to grow food on their small plots, absence of knowledge, especially on how to adapt the production to changing climate, how to access markets and other issues. The negative impacts of climate change that are destabilizing agriculture only exacerbate an already precarious situation.

A joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Women and UNICEF project, “Empowerment of Abandoned Families for Improved Migration Outcomes in Khatlon”, tackled multiple issues faced by rural women and families made vulnerable by outmigration of family members.  

Twenty women’s groups of more than 500 women were trained through FAO’s Women’s Farmer Field Schools (FFS). 

The women were trained in planting techniques, growing seedlings, creating nursery houses, greenhouse vegetable cultivation, organic farming methods, and technology for growing mushrooms in artificially controlled conditions to expand, enhance, and diversify their production practices and improve livelihoods.  The FAO FFS used demonstration plots to teach how to deal with pests, cope with lack of water and the correct use of fertilizers. Women also received agricultural inputs such as seed packages, greenhouses, processing equipment and small instruments for planting.

The outcome for the beneficiaries was that their improved agricultural practices and the agricultural inputs, facilitated the increased production and improved revenue from their farm products. 

Dilafruz went through several training sessions with others from her village, after which she was able to prepare a business plan and was selected to receive a 100 sq m greenhouse.  She plans to grow vegetables for the local markets as well as handle produce from the women’s group, which will be only working on preservation of fruits and vegetables.

To mitigate the negative impacts of migration that has left gaps left in family farm work, under the same initiative FAO collaborated with schools in two districts of Tajikistan to establish 50 Junior Farmer Field Schools. 

With support of FAO, students worked in school gardens and greenhouses. FAO produced manuals and other training materials for students and teachers to be used as subsidiary training materials outside the main curricula. In four schools and vocational training centres the project also installed greenhouses to ensure ongoing educational benefits. 

The enhanced knowledge of innovative agricultural practices such as drip irrigation, vertical farming, and sack farming, is aimed at raising the interest of youth in agricultural production, with the long-term goal of retaining them from migration and building more sustainable production. The knowledge of innovative agricultural practices students receive at schools will encourage them to maintain ties to their lands and their agricultural heritage and improve food security in the country.

As out-migration for labour is predominantly a male trend, the increased skills and knowledge of girls and women will enhance their preparedness for farm work. In Tajikistan, more than 60 percent of women participate in the agricultural sector.