Fostering Agroforestry Measures and Sustainable Livelihoods through Eco-Agriculture Micro-Loans

Fostering Agroforestry Measures and Sustainable Livelihoods  through Eco-Agriculture Micro-Loans
Foothills used for agricultural activities for effective land management and food security, Photo by UNDP EEP

Managed by the regional microloan foundation (MLF) “Imdodi Rushd” established in 2009 under the Gissar Biodiversity project, the eco-agriculture microloan system has helped rural community members in four target jamoats – namely, Rabot (Tursunzoda city), Sabo (Shahrinav district), Khonakoi Kuhi (Gissar district) and Romit (Vahdat city) – build environmentally sustainable livelihoods. As a non-commercial financial institution, the MFL has so far disbursed microloans on agricultural, SME, livestock and horticulture activities in 66 villages of the target jamoats. As such, the eco-agriculture microloan system is designed to support small individual or group-based projects that both generate income and increase the capacity of the local population to adapt to climate change and climate variability through agro-forestry.

In addition to providing financial assistance, the MLF, in close collaboration with the JRC and local forestry agencies, conducts educational activities and trainings among beneficiaries and rural communities regarding the purpose and operations of the MLF, loan management, and modern agro-forestry technologies.

Highlights:

  • Microloans disbursed to 66 villages
  • educational activities and trainings on the purpose and operations of the Microloan Foundation, loan management, and modern agro-forestry technologies conducted
  • reduction of number of migrant workers to the Russian Federation in target jamoats

Thanks to the loan she obtained from Imdodi Rushd, Mrs. Sattorova Sanomoi, Director of School No. 100, was able to cultivate 28 ha of semi-supplied[1] rain-fed land in Devak village, jamoat Rabot. With an initial loan of 7,000 Somoni (USD 1,500) last year, she planted potatoes, melons and almond trees, making a net benefit of 3,500 Somoni (USD 750) with the sale of harvested products and was able to pay back her loan one day ahead of the set deadline. In addition to the micro-credit, Mrs. Sanomoi also received trainings and attended introductory workshops on loan management and agro-forestry. Together, the MLF and the JRC conducted a total of nine days of trainings on deforestation, agro-forestry and agro-investment, SMEs and trade, as well as on sanitary cleaning among the whole community. According to Mrs. Sanomoi, microloans help women gain greater financial autonomy. With a second loan of 7,000 Somoni invested in cattle breeding, she increased her livestock from one to seven cows and expects to be fully economically independent within two years.

In jamoat Rabot, the eco-agriculture loan system also enabled residents to rehabilitate and reinforce slope lands, enrich the soil and maximize their yields by using the proper methods, schemes and type of crops. Together with agro-forestry training, the loans helped the community transform formerly eroded and degraded slope lands by using an inter-cropping system, thereby securing their homes and producing additional forage for animals for the winter. According to microloan recipient Mr. Saloidin Toirov, “through eco-agriculture microloans, we were not only able to influence the price of seedlings and saplings but also improve livestock breeding products like milk and butter.” He stresses how the flexible and affordable lending conditions of Imdodi Rushd allowed him and other community members to produce locally adapted quality seedlings and saplings. As a result, two nurseries of 0.5 ha and 1 ha respectively have been established in the area by Mr. Toirov and other members of the community to sell seedlings and rehabilitate slopes. “This is how we make our lives more sustainable,” explains Mr. Toirov. “I’m sure that very soon I will get my yields, repay my loans and have enough money to pursue my farming practice next year without taking any more loans”.

One of the most significant impacts of microloans in upholding rural communities’ livelihoods and creating income generating opportunities can be observed by the reduced number of migrant workers to the Russian Federation, as well as in the interest of members and representatives of neighbouring Jamoats in obtaining loans and benefiting from the MLF’s activities.

[1] Semi-supplied lands received in average between 500ml and 800ml of precipitations.