Under Feed the Future, America’s global hunger and poverty initiative, the International Potato Center and its partners are implementing a new project, Potato Production Support and Research to Improve Food Security in Khatlon, Tajikistan - Phase II. The project works to address dietary deficiencies and increase potato and sweet potato productivity, stability, and competitiveness. The project will improve household incomes of resource-poor farmers in western Khatlon. Potatoes and sweet potatoes were identified as potential high-value crops that could help reduce poverty and malnutrition in the country. Because orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and newly-bred varieties of potatoes are rich iron and zinc, these crops can help diversify diets and address the problem of child malnutrition, which is prevalent in Tajikistan.
Situation and Solution
In Tajikistan, 10.4 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, and many women and children are undernourished. Common dietary deficiencies in important nutrients, including vitamin A, iron, zinc, iodine, and animal protein, has led to nearly 30% stunting and 7% wasting among children younger than 24 months. The project seeks to increase the production and consumption of improved vegetables high in vitamin A, iron, and/or zinc in the Feed the Future zone of influence – 12 districts in Khatlon province – by introducing new crops, new varieties and technologies, and training local farmers and their families to use them. These technologies include: the introduction of orange-fleshed sweet potato, the production of early bulking potato, breaking dormancy of newly harvested potatoes for planting in the second growing season, and using insect nets to protect potato plants from aphids, white flies and other insects.
Introduce sweet potato varieties rich in beta-carotene and develop appropriate production technologies. Increase the efficiency of potato production through the introduction and dissemination of a) drought-tolerant and day-neutral varieties of potato suitable to local conditions, b) new, cost-effective farming technologies, and c) improved on-farm management practices for smallholders. Build capacity of researchers, advisors, farmers and local research entities, including the Institute of Botany, Plant Physiology and Genetics of the Tajik Academy of Sciences.
At least two new sweet potato varieties with high levels of beta-carotene and two new promising varieties of potato will be recommended for registration in Tajikistan; improved agronomic practices suitable for local conditions will be introduced and tested in farms. At least one local farmer in each district will have the capacity to produce sweet potato vines and transfer this technology to other local farmers. 500 local agricultural specialists and farmers will be trained on innovative potato production technologies. Potato productivity will increase up to 35% in the second growing season in experimental trials. At least three local farmers will develop a business model that applies new technologies to use freshly harvested potatoes as seed potatoes for a second cropping season.
Project implementation site
Country – Tajikistan; Region – West Khatlon 12 districts (Khuroson, Yovon, Jomi, Sarband, Bokhtar, Vakhsh, Rumi, Jilikul - Dusti, Qubodion, Shahrituz, NosiriKhusrav, Qumsangir - Jayhoon)
University of Central Asia, The Institute of Botany, Plant Physiology and Genetics of the Tajik Academy of Sciences