Developing capacity for strengthening food security and nutrition

Promoting inclusive economic growth through matching grants for families of migrants

Migration is a prominent feature of Tajikistan’s society: the majority of the country’s rural households have at least one or two members who have migrated abroad in search of better employment opportunities. Although migration may reduce the pressure on local labour markets caused by Tajikistan’s rapidly growing population, at the same time, rural areas lose the younger and most dynamic share of their workforce.

Tajikistan, one of the poorest countries in the Central Asia region, depends heavily on the remittances of its migrants. In 2014, these were estimated to constitute 42 percent of its GDP of USD 9.24 billion, although this number has been falling recently due to the economic crisis in Russia (the main destination for Tajik migrants) and the decline of the Russian rouble. While the remittances could be an enormous source of investment in the country, the majority are spent on primary needs such as food, housing and education, with only a small percentage going to savings and investments in rural areas. However, channeling remittances into agriculture, which is the second-largest sector of the country’s economy but which has been suffering from low productivity, would have catalytic effects on rural development by promoting food security and nutrition, employment creation, and inclusive growth.

The “Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia” project aims to harness the development potential of migration by mobilizing remittances for agricultural development. Under the “Promoting Inclusive Economic Growth through Matching Grants” pilot, FAO assists migrants and their families and communities in developing small- and medium-scale projects in fruit, vegetable and livestock production, as well as in value addition activities. The project uses the “1+1 approach”, which has proven to be effective in similar projects by other development agencies: for every dollar invested by the migrant worker, an additional dollar is made available from project funds.

Besides supporting beneficiaries through grants, the pilot includes capacity development programmes which allow migrant workers and their families to build skills in small- and medium business development in the agricultural sector. The programmes cover technical areas related to the specific subsector and value chain segment, such as production, processing and marketing, and cross-cutting themes, including business skills and enterprise development.

On the demand side, the pilot carries out awareness-raising and education campaigns on healthy dietary habits and promotes the consumption of diversified and nutritious food. In addition, FAO supports the inclusion of institutional buyers as a targeted end market for the food produced by promoting linkages with hospitals and schools, among others. In this way, the pilot is also linked to the project’s school feeding component.  

To be eligible for participation in the pilot programme, applicants should be migrants or returnees, women with household responsibilities receiving remittances from a first degree relative, or forced returnees with proven ineligibility to migrate abroad. The inclusion of returnees and forced returnees is vital, as migrants are increasingly returning to their home country, and their sustainable reintegration into society requires creation and broadening of employment opportunities.

The pilot is being implemented in the Hissor and Jaloliddin Balkhii districts in Tajikistan in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Migration and Employment of the Population; the Ministry of Agriculture; the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and Finance; the International Organization for Migration; the National Farmer Association; and the International Labour Organization.