Community approach to food security and natural resources

Community approach to food security and natural resources
Pear trees planted with support of CRM project to prevent land degradation. Photo by UNDP EEP

The 1992-97 civil war deepened the impacts of the transition to market economy on both rural communities and the protected area system in Tajikistan. The collapse of state infrastructures led to an overutilization of natural resources and the civil war increased the socio-economic hardship and ecological devastation caused by ad hoc processes of de-collectivization by displacing population into these protected areas.

To respond to these challenges, UNDP Tajikistan implemented a community-based approach that ensures environmentally sustainable livelihood and food security in Gissar Mountains through the establishment of Jamoat Resource Centers. The JRC modeling has been acting as a catalyst for mobilizing communities and promoting participatory management practices to strengthen local capacities and reduce community reliance on natural resources.

The JRC supported smallholder Dehkan farmers located in climate risk prone areas on the mountain foothills in establishing an agroforestry land use system by covering the costs of tree seedlings via a scalable eco-agriculture micro-lending scheme. Salt-tolerant trees were planted for bio-drainage of foothill areas leading to the rejuvenation of some 24 hectares of land for community farming activities. Promising new plant species were introduced to support rural households’ income generation and fuel-related needs and to reduce pressures on forest resources. The JRC also established a four-hectare nursery with a production capacity of 10,000 seedlings per year.

Highlights:

  • rejuvenation of some 24 hectares of land for community farming activities
  • establishment of a four-hectare nursery with a production capacity of 10,000 seedlings per year
  • 60,000 intercropping seedlings have been planted on 79 hectares of slope lands, protecting 149 households from disaster hazards and enhancing their food security

The initiative seeks to empower economically deprived segments of the population by mobilizing them through joint-management and co-benefit sharing measures designed to tackle the ecological degradation and systemic poverty experienced in rural and mountainous areas. As a community-based organization, the JRC regularly conducts surveys and engages community members in the organization and planning of activities. At the local level, the decision making process is performed in consultation with all communities, the Protected Area and Forestry agencies as well as local government representatives. The JRC’s participatory mechanism and joint discussion of common problems ensure the effective management of natural resources by communities, and improves the livelihoods and self-sufficiency of vulnerable groups, especially women, by providing them with facilitated access to microloans and extension services.

To date, 60,000 intercropping seedlings have been planted on 79 hectares of slope lands, protecting 149 households from disaster hazards and enhancing their food security. Over 10,000 people have gained knowledge on innovative natural resource management, including the grafting of hawthorn with pears and apples. The grafting technology enables the cultivation of dry land and is being used to grow pears or apples to get additional incomes and sustain slope lands. By increasing fruit production, the grafting of hawthorn with pears and apples also allows farmers to sell their product at a lower price.

“My neighbor was the first to experiment with this technology and now it is being disseminated through all villages. As of today there are 200 grafted trees and each one gives from 10 to 35 kg per season. It has been found as a best alternative option to improve livelihood by community members given unfavorable climatic conditions to grow fruit trees. The collected harvest feeds and sustains my family”, says Inatullo Almatov, a local farmer.