Ilhomjon Hakimov lives in the picturesque Rudaki region of Tajikistan, named after the great poet considered the founder of classical Persian literature. His beautiful, blooming five-hectare orchard would certainly have provided fruitful inspiration for Rudaki.
“My family received land during the Soviet era and we raised cotton, as did the majority of people in the Rudaki region. Later I planted my first apple and cherry trees. Nowadays, I cultivate grapes, plums, nectarines and cherries along with almost all types of vegetables, and last year I planted more than 4,000 blackberry, strawberry and raspberry seedlings which require special care and irrigation.”
Green investment for delicious organic berries
Ilhomjon supports innovation with green technologies and tries to incorporate them into his farm. Last year he decided to approach one of the EBRD partner banks in Tajikistan for a Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF Tajikistan is co-funded by the Green Climate Fund and supported by the Republic of Korea) loan.
The European Union supplemented GEFF loan with an investment incentive through the Enhanced Competitiveness of Tajik Agribusinesses Project (ECTAP).
The investment went on installing three cold storage units, a sprinkler irrigation system and water storage for his orchard. The sprinkler irrigation and freezing of berries in a timely and proper manner helps to prevent diseases and preserves the crops’ nutrients while retaining a marketable appearance.
Using the new sprinkler irrigation will also allow Ilhomjon to save up to 30 per cent of water annually, while the energy efficient cold storage units will save him around 30-40 per cent of energy compared to traditional methods.
Setting up a sustainable future
“I have visited many countries and am trying to adopt all my new skills and knowledge. For instance, in South Korea, I learned how to produce organic fertiliser and now I prefer to make it from overripe fruit. Good farming methods will help us ensure food security and therefore I am trying to involve my four sons in the farm’s routine work, as they will inherit it in the future. I nurture everything with love and passion,” says Ilhomjon.
He is planning to create his own brand and find new opportunities for marketing it, and this year he will produce frozen berries using the new cold storage system and sell them in Tajik supermarkets.