Sustaining Agricultural Biodiversity in the face of climate change in Tajikistan

Project Goal:

Conservation and sustainable use of globally significant and local agricultural biodiversity, as well as the development of adaptive capacity within the framework of food security strategy and poverty reduction, the development of the market for effective and sustainable agricultural practices in the face of climate change.

What is the Programme about?

Tajikistan is a globally important centre of agro-biodiversity from which cultivated plants have originated. Many on-farm traditional crop varieties (landraces) and their wild relatives (CWRs), which have been lost in large numbers due to changes in farming practices and loss of natural habitat, respectively, potentially house resistances and tolerances to pests, diseases and abiotic stresses. Such landraces and their CWRs are also likely to be better adapted to changing climatic regimes, marked by rising temperatures and increasing frequencies of extreme events, such as periods of intense rainfall, extreme cold and prolonged heat, resulting more frequent floods and droughts. Thus, agrobiodiversity may represent one of the best and only opportunities for communities in rural areas to maintain and improve their livelihoods in the face of climate change. Moreover, Tajikistan’s agricultural biodiversity is also important to global food security.

Sustaining agricultural biodiversity in the face of climate change in Tajikistan is a full-sized UNDP-GEF project, which is aimed at embedding globally significant agro-biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change into the agricultural and rural development policies and practices of Tajikistan at national and local levels.

The (development) objective of the Project, as defined in the Project Document, is:

Globally significant agrobiodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change are embedded in agricultural and rural development policies and practices at national and local levels in Tajikistan.

The project, designed in partnership with the National Biodiversity and Biosafety Centre (NBBC), UNDP Communities Programme and the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), will demonstrate three inter-linked processes that focus on: (i) capacity development at system, institutional and individual levels, through strengthening policy and regulatory frameworks; (ii) in situ and ex situ agrobiodiversity conservation measures; (iii) and market development; all of which are targeted in conjunction with socio-ecological adaptation to climate change. It takes advantage of important opportunities to develop socio-ecological resilience among agricultural ecosystems and their dependent farming communities by addressing immediate threats to agrobiodiversity while enabling farmers to anticipate and plan for climate-related changes over the longer term.

The project targets the conservation of perennial germplasm, specifically fruits and nuts, by understanding the likely impacts of climate change using a Homologue Approach. This approach relies on pairing sites, based on predictions from global models showing that temperatures in the project pilot areas will have increased by 3oC in 2050. The adiabatic lapse rate is 6oC per 1,000 m, which means that climatic conditions at a given site today will prevail in 2050 at a homologous site that is 500 m higher in altitude. Using this approach, sites having substantial agrobiodiversity were identified by the project and matched in terms of soils and climate to homologous sites located at altitudes 500 m higher.

Four pilot demonstration areas have been chosen, totalling approximately 1.5 million hectares in Zeravshan, Rasht, Baljuvan and Shurobad. Nine jamoats have been targeted, encompassing a total area of 182,718 ha and an altitudinal range from 1,132 m to 2,716 m, within seven districts (Aini, Penjikent, Tajikabad, Nurobod, Khovaling, Baljuvan and Shurobad.

The primary beneficiaries are the local communities, notably farmers, and local authorities (jamoats). The project has been designed to operate at local level through the Jamoat Resource Centres, supported by UNDP’s Communities Programme via the UNDP Area Offices.

The project officially commenced on 22 June 2009, when the Project Document was signed. Actual implementation began in September 2009 with a six-month inception phase that culminated in March 2010 with a workshop to review the draft Inception Report.

Project outcomes:

  1. Agro-biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change through supportive policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks;
  2. Improved capacity for sustaining agro-biodiversity in the face of climate change;
  3. Market conditions favour sustainable agro-biodiversity production.

Accomplishments so far

Excellent progress made in the project sites with respect to constructive cooperation between local communities and administrations and tangible evidence of agrobiodiversity being propagated in nurseries or cultivated in gardens and on farms for conservation and food production purposes.

Partnerships with local authorities, farmer communities and partners in project areas led the project to sign the tripartite memoranda and joint work plans with UNDP Area offices and Jamoat Resource Centers (JRC) for effective implementation of measures on reduction of negative incentives in the market development of local communities.

Over 3000 farmers were consulted in the four pilot areas during a series of  workshops on local, traditionally cultivated plants (landraces) and the importance of their wild relatives for coping with climate change, using homologue modelling to inform future cultivation. The package for promoting climate resilient ABD varieties is being introduced to the national extension service of MoA by project partners within the Tajik Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

ABD policies applied in 3 of 4 pilot areas and adopted in 6 home gardens. As a good example of replication could be shown 6 home gardens/farms in 6 jamoats established with Project funds and 8 gardens in other jamoats without Project funds (inspired just by workshops etc).

The project has applied the policy of collecting, identifying and storing germplasm ex situ in national seed bank, while also sending samples to repositories overseas to further safeguard the genetic resource in perpetuity and for crop improvement programmes. Achievements include: (i) mother garden established at Plant Genetic Resources Centre with material from project; (ii) ABD seed material (land races and wild relatives) stored at National Republican Centre on Genetic Resources (NRCGR); (iii) NRCGR deposited duplicate material for 1023 wheat varieties and >600 barley varieties in seed banks in Svalbard (Norway) and Vavilov Institute (Russia) out of which 35-40% originates from project; (iv) NRCGR also provided Sweden with 4 wheat varieties and Agricultural Academy, Xinjiang, China with 80 varieties (wheat, barley, faber beans etc); and (v) NRCGR’s staff trained in data entry into database and can readily compute a dataset of all landrace or CWR accessions provided by project.

In order to conserve the valuable local and traditional varieties of genetic resources the project has adapted the homologue approach into the Tajikistan conditions by identifying the environmental, physical and geographical characteristics of 42 project jamoats covering 1.5 million ha. For applying the homologue approach at project sites, the project has used the “bottom-up” approach and as a result has come up with 84 homologue sites for which the GIS maps, satellite images, topographic and administrative maps and climatic charts been prepared. A ‘model’ approach that is community-based, grounded in effective knowledge exchange whereby synergy is generated from sharing scientific and traditional knowledge, and resourced by a sustainable financing mechanism (revolving fund). Achievements include: (i) mother gardens (14 ha in total) established for recalcitrant varieties of traditional fruit (e.g. pomegranate, apple) through community-based approach involving jamoats, reinforced by JRCs, and resourced by setting up revolving micro-loan funds (MLFs); (ii) knowledge of local ABD varieties secured from communities and recorded in GIS; and (iii) further resourcing on stream via GEF Small Grants Programme.

Progress on international marketing has been done through trade fairs in Tajikistan with visitors from overseas, foreign embassies and UN representatives. Range of products certified by State Agency for Standardization, Certification and Metrology. As a result of conducted market research on ABD products, including detailed assessment of value/price chain for mulberry, new packaging for ABD products developed and marketed successfully at national trade fairs.

Project Small Grant Programm awarded grants for ABD projects covering 10 jamoats. Over 35.5 ha of gardens belonging to farming households were restored or created for production of local varieties of fruits adapted to climate change and more than 15 tons of seed was harvested from high-yielding varieties of cereals and legumes. Also through SGP the project has funded the construction of solar dryers in order to prevent the loss of harvest, which is calculated at least 45% of annual harvest.

Project established new MLF in Dektur Jamoat with US$30,000 revolving fund and replenished the existing one at Rasht region with $6,000 revolving fund. Enterprises related to ABD production beginning to emerge as micro-credits schemes put in place are catalysed by training workshops. For example, training workshop on construction and use of solar driers has led to new enterprise(s) in solar driers production.

Who finances it?

Global Environmental Facility

United Nations Development Programme

Delivery in previous fiscal year


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