Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2024

World Food Day

Tamara Fiodorova

“As soon as rain stops, we till the land to retain moisture.”


Potatoes, cabbage, courgettes and other vegetables can grow even in a harsh climate. And Tamara Fiodorova knows how to get good yields on her land in Rassoloda, a village in the Sakha Republic, a part of Russia known as Yakutia. The trick, she says, is to grow locally adapted crops developed by local breeders.  

“We have been farming livestock for centuries,” she says of her family, who has been living in this part of northeast Russia for generations. Her mother was a dairymaid and her father a horse breeder, but for Tamara, there is nothing like getting her hands in the soil. 

“I love growing vegetables. This work doesn’t tire me out, it brings me joy.” 

Here most of the farmwork happens between April and late October: harvesting, rounding up cattle, insulating cattle barns. Tamara’s day starts at six in the morning when she milks the cows. Then she goes on to the garden. 

“I always see that my garden is in order, the soil is clean and water is plenty. You have to irrigate every evening –  in the daytime the earth is drying up quickly.” 

What Tamara calls her garden is in fact a very sizeable plot of farmland that extends beyond her village. Because irrigation systems are expensive here, extending pipes to her land is not an option. This means Tamara and other farmers who plant on larger plots of land are still fully dependent on rainfall.  

Part of why her field produces well is that she carefully selects potato varieties suitable for the local climate.  

“I try to choose red potatoes because they are resistant,” she says “They endure dry weather and they survive the winter well [in storage].”  

Another way of getting the most out of the water she has is tilling after the rain.  

“As soon as rain stops, we till the land to retain moisture,” she explains. “In this way, we move wet soil closer to the tubers. If we till three to four times during the summer after heavy rains, it is enough.”  

Some farmers are trying newer plant varieties that promise higher yields, but Tamara swears by what she has. “I prefer time-tested varieties,” she says.