ECTAP’s support for smallholders: the ECTAP Beef-and-Dairy Smallholder Initiative with a set of ongoing activities targeted at Tajik Dekhan farms and International Interactive Agribusiness Workshop (September 2018)
Dushanbe, November 2018
In spring / summer 2018 the EU-funded Enhanced Competitiveness of Tajik Agribusiness Project (ECTAP) has launched the Beef-and-Dairy Smallholder Initiative to provide special support to Tajik Dekhan farms. Purpose of the Initiative is to enable smallholders to benefit from the experience and technological achievements of larger agribusinesses - starting with demonstration activities made in large and modern farms before being replicated with smallholders. Thereby, the Initiative contributes to the socially-inclusive modernization of ECTAP value chains (fruits, vegetables, beef and dairy, poultry and honey). Moreover, the Initiative forms part of a coordinated package of activities targeted at boosting the beef & dairy sector by bridging the technological gap between Tajikistan and the most-advanced countries. At the heart of the Beef-and-Dairy Smallholder Initiative is the ECTAP three-step “Test – Train – Transfer” approach equipping Tajik farmers with best international farming practices and innovations from abroad: Selected new technologies are first tested in modern large-scale farms; second, agronomists and zootechnicians in these farms are trained; and finally knowledge acquired from demonstration farms is transferred to smallholders through trainings and field days.
ECTAP is a leading development project in the field of agribusiness development in CIS countries. It aims at fostering the modernization and competitiveness of selected value chains in a holistic way (from input providers down to farmers, agroprocessors to the final consumers) and with a socially inclusive approach. The aim of ECTAP is to contribute to the modernization of agricultural value-chains in full coordination with Government of Tajikistan. The Ministry of Agriculture is actively working on the development of road maps aimed at developing export-oriented value chains, as well as similar plans for substituting imported products in Tajikistan, in pursuance of the Agrarian Reform Program for 2012-2020. Among the strategic value-chains identified by ECTAP is beef-and-dairy.
Background information: the Tajik dairy sector
Demand for dairy products in Tajikistan is increasing. As a consequence Tajik dairy factories need bigger volumes and better quality of milk. The highest prices are paid to large farms who are able to produce best quality milk. Dekhan farms are currently marginal players in animal husbandry because this activity has not been quite profitable in the past for lack of domestic demand. As domestic demand is expected to recover in the near future, Dekhan farms could well see an interest in re-entering this sector. Dekhan farms control the most critical part of livestock breeding: the production of fodder (roughage). They have a strategic interest in introducing crop rotations with the inclusion of legumes such as soybeans, groundnuts or alfalfa. And they can use the by-products of their other crops such as straw from wheat or rice, or cotton cake. Finally, fodder maize is an excellent second crop after many of their other crops and in particular after wheat. Overall, there are promising opportunities to Dekhan dairy farmers which however also result in a need for modernisation.
To increase the competitiveness of the beef-and-dairy sector, under ECTAP a number of activities have been implemented. These activities build on linking of Tajik farms (both large-scale modern farms as well smallholders) with international agribusinesses to bring farming innovations to Tajikistan:
Establishment of pilot demonstration farms for innovative agricultural practices comprising: (1) seeds for innovative fodder (fodder beets, alfalfa, maize), (2) agricultural machinery and (3) modern livestock genetics (artificial insemination, pedigree bulls and embryo transfer). The farms are located in DRS (Fayzabad, Hissar and Tursunzade) and Sughd region (B. Ghafurov and Isfara) and contribute to the ECTAP three-step “Test – Train – Transfer” approach equipping Tajik farmers with best international farming practices and innovations from abroad: Selected new technologies are first tested in demonstration activities at modern large-scale farms; second, agronomists and zootechnicians in these farms are trained; and finally knowledge acquired from demonstration farms is transferred to smallholders through trainings and field days. ECTAP provides high quality inputs (seeds, fertilizer, material for artificial insemination and embryo transfer, innovative machinery). At the five demonstration plots the following crops are cultivated: fodder beet, maize, soybean and Lucerne.
Moreover, ECTAP experts deliver a number of trainings in advanced techniques for animal husbandry and agronomic practices. This way, agronomists and farmers are prepared to apply new technology of growing of high quality high yield seeds introduced to them. Regarding innovative machinery, in cooperation with Agralis Tajikistan and Kuhn, ECTAP experts demonstrate harvest technologies and explain quality preparation of maize for silos to train farmers in preparation of silos and feed for cows.
In spring 2018 the ECTAP Modern Genetics Initiative was launched and aims at improving the productivity of livestock in Tajikistan. Input (sexed/conventional semen and embryos) and equipment (ultra sound, devices) for artificial insemination and embryo transfer have been brought to Tajikistan to be tested on Tajik farms. Moreover, independent veterinarians and inseminators were trained on livestock genetics coupled with practical sessions in synchronisation, embryo transfer and artificial insemination in cooperation with the Tajik Livestock Institute. More than 30 inseminators and veterinarians got trained and certified by ECTAP project in Artificial insemination and embryo transfer. In addition, genetic pilot farms were established in Isfara, B. Ghafurov, Hissar, Rudaki district of Tajikistan. The initiative furthermore features coaching for Dekhan farms on artificial insemination and embryo transfer to transfer the knowledge from large farms. Smallholder farmers can benefit from this initiative by attending open field days, practical training sessions and advisory from the trained inseminators, veterinarians in beef and dairy sector.
Moreover, ECTAP agronomists and livestock experts are delivering a number of trainings in advanced techniques for animal husbandry and agronomic practices to farmers from Isfara, B. Ghafurov, Khujand, Hissar, Rudaki, Tursunzoda. These trainings cover feeding practices, feed base, rations, artificial insemination, embryo transfer, veterinary preparation, genetic materials. In addition, trainings are delivered for Agricultural Extension Services (AES) in advanced and innovative agricultural technologies combining theoretical knowledge and in-the-field practice to upgrade capacities of AES in the field of beef-and-dairy.
In September 2018, ECTAP organised the International Interactive Agribusiness Workshop gathering 50 key national and international actors active in the beef-and-dairy sector. Under the heading “Improving smallholders’ access to modern markets and modern technologies in beef-and-dairy in Tajikistan”, the Workshop offered an overview of the status quo, challenges and prospect for development of smallholders in beef-and-dairy. Moreover, presentations made by agribusinesses from abroad providing insights about international best practices were combined with contributions from Tajik farmers and milk processors on their experience. One key element was the need for specific technology of making cheese. For this purpose, ECTAP invited a specialist from France sharing his insights on how to build and operate a small cheese factory. In preparation of the Workshop, ECTAP experts gathered farmers from Shahriston, Mastchoh, Kylyab and Vatan to assess their needs. Agricultural equipment has been another key topic: international providers from France, Italy, Spain and other European countries presented processing and milk cooling equipment as well as potential cooperation with Tajik companies. The Ministry of Agriculture presented the government strategy in the beef-and-dairy sector and business models for small- scale value chain development. ECTAP experts addressed the issue of food quality control by delivering a presentation about milk quality and key principles along the value chain. All in all, the Workshop illustrated opportunities for cooperation and the need to put on track the beef-and-dairy sector for smallholders.
The Fourth Agribusiness Investment Forum on Beef-and-Dairy, organised in December 2017 in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, gathered over 200 Tajik stakeholders (including smallholders and large-scale farms, Tajik Government representatives) and leading international agribusinesses. The Forum thereby offered a platform to local and international actors to build opportunities of cooperation.
The beef-and-dairy study tour to France & Germany in March 2018 equipped a team of 13 Tajik actors active in agribusiness (Dehkan farmers, cooperatives, processors, veterinarians) with best practices in beef & dairy production and processing. Therefore ECTAP contributed to building a team of pioneers to boost the technological progress. Besides obtaining knowledge about modern technologies to be transferred to Tajikistan, these pioneers were enabled to test these modern technologies, train their staff (including those of associated extension services) in the implementation of these technologies and transfer the know-how of these technologies to a wider array of medium and small farmers. As such, the study tour must be seen as an entry point for further technological development following the ECTAP “Test – Train – Transfer” approach.
Support for investments in agriculture and agribusiness. ECTAP offers promotes innovative and modern investments by linking Dekhan farms and agribusinesses with key equipment suppliers and agricultural extension services (AES) as well as financial institutions active in agrilending. On a regular basis so-called Days of Open Doors are organised offering a platform for ECTAP’s partner financial institutions Bank Eskhata and MDO IMON International to present lending options to their potential clients. ECTAP experts provide assistance to farmers to select suitable equipment, supported by AES. Investment is incentivised through a 20% grant financed by the EU for the 300 items on the list of eligible machinery and equipment (LEME – available on https://ectap.org). This way, obsolete technology is replaced by modern and innovative livestock, equipment (e.g. for milking) and machinery (e.g. tractor) offering higher productivity.
Finally, ECTAP is also providing food safety trainings, in particular on ISO 22000:1-2009 Pre Requisites Programs Manufacturing which covered ISO/TS 22002-1 complements ISO 22000 and provides a common set of 15 pre-requisite programs for use by food manufacturers.