Focusing on market-driven value chains to improve farming livelihoods in Tajikistan

Apricot farmers listening to advice

Small-scale apricot farmers listen to advice on apricot harvesting and handling.

A World Bank loan and technical assistance from NIRAS has helped to commercialise the agricultural sector in Tajikistan and improve stakeholders’ livelihoods by increasing the quality of Tajik products in selected value chains and making them more marketable to buyers.

August 13, 2018
  • SDG: #8, #1, #12
  • SECTORS: Development Consulting
  • COUNTRIES: Tajikistan
  • CLIENT: The World Bank, the International Development Association, and the Government of Tajikistan
  • CONTRACT VALUE: EUR 32 million
  • DURATION: 2014–2019, extended to April 2021

Tajikistan is the poorest country in Central Asia, and its rural areas are particularly hit hard by poverty. Agricultural productivity is very low, with farming being responsible for only 21% of the GDP despite employing 46.5% of the population. Around 90% of agricultural households are small subsistence farmers.

The Tajikistan Agriculture Commercialisation Project has helped Tajik farmers exploit the full potential of their land. The project was funded by the International Development Association and employed technical assistance from NIRAS through a project management unit.

Apricot Farmer
Small-scale apricot farmers are trained in proper post-harvest handling and storage to avoid bruising and contamination of the fruit.

Subsistence farmers can gain much by moving away from low-value, stable crops and instead tapping into the potential of a few profitable value chains. The project therefore aimed to strengthen six profitable value chains: apricots, lemons, apples/pears, tomatoes, grapes, and milk. Fruit was favoured, as they are suitable for small-scale production and have export potential. They also mature early and have a unique flavour due to Tajikistan’s favourable agroecological conditions.

Tajikistan was already a major exporter of apricots, but it mostly relied on the Russian market where the apricots were sold cheaply because of their low quality and traceability.

Improved Harvesting Practices Lead to Better Quality

If Tajikistan diversifies its export offsets, it can become less dependent on Russian and similar markets. The project therefore worked on improving quality, traceability, and hygiene to meet global certification standards. One example of the project’s training and technical assistance is the effort to strengthen harvesting and post-harvesting practices.

An old harvest technique among apricot farmers has been to beat branches with sticks to get the fruits down, a process that damages the fruit. Through the project, groups of farmers were taught gentler picking methods and informed of the benefits to drying the fruit in wooden trays in shelters instead of on the roads, which prevents contact with dirt and dust after picking.

Taking advantage of the considerable export opportunities for high-value crops and food products made in Tajikistan, the project supports entrepreneurial efforts to increase productivity, commerce, and employment opportunities in rural regions of Tajikistan.

Jan-Peter Olters, World Bank Country Manager in Tajikistan.
Brigitte Tohm 329287 Unsplash

New Technology and Knowledge

The project impacted positively on all actors in the value chain, working closely with processors and exporters in product certification, branding, and promotion at trade fairs.

Furthermore, a commercial grant program enabled groups of small farmers to access improved technology. The new technology, in combination with newly gained knowledge,  increased agricultural production quantities, the fruits’ quality, and earnings all along the value chains.

Find out more about the project's achievements and results in the video below.


Individual farmers and small- and medium-sized enterprises were supported in various ways by 2017, when the project was extended

73 %

Percentage of Tajikistan’s 8.55 million population who reside in rural areas

49 %

Percentage of Tajikistan’s rural population who live below the poverty line

Get in touch

Kristina Mastroianni

Kristina Mastroianni

Agriculture Sector Lead

Stockholm, Sweden

+46 8 545 533 32

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