Exploring new horizons of family farming: A Farmer grows blueberries in the conditions of Karakalpakstan - challenges & opportunities

The interview was conducted by Gulnur Kaypnazarova

June 3, 2024

A farmer from the Aral Sea region

UNDP Uzbekistan/Gulnur Kaypnazarova

On a breezy spring day, we received great news - experts from the UNDP delivered blueberry seedlings of the "Duke" variety, filling us with immense joy. 

I am Pirleshbay Allaniazov, a farmer hailing from the Aral Sea region. I have spent most of my life surrounded by fields and crops for 30 years, working in the agriculture department of the Kegeyli district, my hometown. Beginning my farming journey in 1991 with a modest 14-acre plot, I cultivated fruits and vegetables. My son, Allambergen, captivated by my work, joined me at the age of 12 in tending to apricots, grapes, apples, and pears.



Amidst the vast lands of the Aral Sea region, we decided to venture into new realms and diversify our farming with new crops, particularly berries. After thorough research on berry varieties suitable for our region, we opted for blueberries, despite their requirement for high soil acidity (pH levels around 3.5-5).  The aspiration to grow and introduce blueberries in the conditions of Karakalpakstan had long been a dream of mine. Since there is no blueberry nursery in our region, the idea seemed risky at first glance due to the region's vulnerability to desertification and soil salinity. Cultivating blueberries is a delicate craft that demands special attention and care. This plant does not thrive with conventional fertilizers like manure, compost, or wood ash commonly used by gardeners.



Likewise, my son, inspired by my guidance, is pursuing studies in agricultural technologies at the Karakalpak Institute of Agriculture and Agrotechnology to uphold our family farming. Allambergen applied for blueberry cultivation, and we commenced the project with 75 bushes, as part of the UNDP initiative to enhance the production potential of the agricultural sector to ensure the sustainability of local farmers and rural households in the Aral Sea region.

To nurture the bushes effectively, they require special assistance - mycorrhiza. This is when fungi and plant roots work together, exchanging nutrients. Fungi help roots absorb water and minerals from the soil, in exchange for sugar produced by the plant through photosynthesis. It's a mutually beneficial partnership that allows plants to grow strong and healthy. 

Blueberries are considered one of the most sought-after berries on the market, with 10 seedlings potentially becoming a financial cushion for each family, not to mention the health benefits and taste qualities. With the support of the UNDP, we believe that we will pave the way for other farmers in the region, sharing our experience on blueberry cultivation and achieving success in our endeavors.