The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) notes that with just 7.0 percent of its land suited to farming, and the World Food Programme (WFP)’s estimate that 97 percent of this is subject to soil degradation, Tajikistan imports over half of its agricultural inputs and three-quarters of its food.

Additional pressures on the ability to grow and buy food reportedly include the effects of climate change on temperatures and water availability, population growth, sudden shocks like COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, affecting global prices.

Under the previous National Development Strategy (NDS), the Government of Tajikistan was successful in increasing gross agricultural production by almost 9.0 percent.  As part of the NDS for the period to 2030, the Tajik Government is now working to grow the agricultural sector, monitor nutrition and support imports to ensure economic and physical access to nutritious food.

AKDN is reportedly supporting food production and nutrition from several angles: researching, sourcing and distributing appropriate inputs such as seeds; enhancing productivity through training; building rural infrastructure such as irrigation channels; supplying post-harvest processing equipment and food storage; and providing nutrition support for mothers, babies and adolescents at risk of stunting.

The University of Central Asia (UCA)’s Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI) is implementing three research projects on food security and food systems under Thrive Tajikistan: Enhancing Social Services, Governance, and Economic Inclusion in Border Regions, a partnership between USAID and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF): 1) improving the quality of Pamir ecotype yaks through evaluation and selection; 2) testing different spring and winter wheat varieties and distributing the most disease-resistant to local farmers, governmental agriculture extension agents and development NGOs in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, or GBAO; and 3) working with the Kulob Botanical Gardens in Khatlon Province to map wild relatives of fruit plants in mountain pastures and conserve them in nurseries, training local communities to propagate them and sustain food production systems for the future.

Farmers have reportedly joined the Agriculture Inputs Revolving Funds (AIRFs) set up by AKF and USAID in partnership with communities.  Run by the villages’ existing agricultural committees, they provide pools of money that can be used by farmers to buy supplies like seeds and fertilizer.  The farmers also receive training on seed selection, production practices and post-harvest handling and storage.

Malnutrition rates have reportedly fallen over the last decade.  However, at the start of 2023, WFP still classed 30 percent of Tajikistan’s population as moderately food-insecure: unable to regularly eat healthy, nutritious diets.  AKF’s Central Asia Stunting Initiative aims to prevent as well as treat stunting and improve nutrition for the whole community, aiding Government efforts to break the cycle of undernutrition across a whole generation.

Staff at government facilities are trained and supported to assess the birth weight of babies within 24 hours of birth, identifying the ones with low birth weight and referring those under 1.5 kg to intensive care.  Micronutrients and food supplements such as fortified porridge are provided for underweight pregnant and lactating women, babies and adolescents.

This multisectoral approach to food security and nutrition in Tajikistan combines innovation with conservation, supporting the efforts of Tajik farmers, small businesses and medical staff.  It complements AKDN’s irrigation and clean water work to reinforce the progress of the National Development Strategy’s work towards improving seeds, using new agricultural techniques and helping agricultural producers reach markets.