After the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991, the economy of Kyrgyzstan has undergone significant changes. In the agricultural sector, with the transition to a market economy, large collective farms were fragmented into smallholder farms. In a result the farmers faced difficulties to access fast growing markets, consequences of monoculture in the past led to soil degradation and production costs for individual farmers have increased. In order to address these issues the BioFarmer Cooperative in South Kyrgyzstan introduced organic farming in 2004 by joining 1000 smallholder farmers into one cooperative and establishing links to international organic markets.
The organic and fairtrade farmers have increased their net income by 27% and improved their living. The organic farmers Ms. Baktykan Primkulova and Mr. Raimbek Karimov are cooperative members since 7 years. They live in the village called Beshikjon (literal translation would be “creddle”), which is located 25km away from Jalalabat city. Raimbek says that since he joined the organic cotton project his income has increased due to sales to international market. He mentions the German textile processor Elmertex as the most fair and committed buyer for Kyrgyz cotton. With the returns he is even able to build a house for his children. And Baktykan says she likes the innovative ways of this project, especially growing organic medicinal plants, like Calendula due to its medical features. She called all her neighbours to join the cooperative and today around 70 farmers are growing organic cotton, beans, chick peas and medicinal plants.
The “BioFarmer” Cooperatives continues promoting organic agriculture in the country and helps all farmers to convert to better farming methods.
The message of Kyrgyz organic farmers to the Organic community would be:
- To establish a common national strategy on organic agriculture and for that using existing experiences to replicate the best practices in other parts of the country
- Support the organic producers to enter and develop local and regional markets
- Support in establishing a network of organic and fairtrade producers and other value chain stakeholders in the country and allow exchange of experiences with others