Greenhouse technology allows farms to harvest fruits and vegetables in late winter and early spring, when the products can fetch a premium price on the local market.
In Tajikistan, greenhouses are rare. Those which do exist are constructed with very basic technology or have deteriorated to a point where they are no longer productive.
The state of greenhouses in the country prevents domestic farms from growing enough early vegetables to meet domestic demand and makes it extremely difficult for local farms to compete with imported product. As a result, Tajik farms miss a critical opportunity to earn income from high value produce sold in the local markets.
During the Soviet Union, private farm Chairman, Fozilov Aslam, grew lemons in 0.81 hectares of greenhouses. After independence, Fozilov did not have the financial resources or technical expertise to maintain his greenhouses. The lack of investment significantly reduced the efficiency of the structures. In order to rebuild this important source of revenue, Fozilov applied to the USAID Productive Agriculture Project to support him in the reconstruction of his greenhouses.
After a competitive selection process, Fozilov was awarded a grant from the USAID Productive Agriculture Project to rehabilitate his greenhouses. The Project granted 30 percent of the funds needed for reconstruction while Fozilov invested 70 percent of his own money to install energy efficient coal heating systems. The coal systems will allow the greenhouses to function in an area where electricity and gas power are not reliable.
With USAID assistance, the new heating systems were installed in December 2011, allowing Fozilov to plant tomatoes and cucumbers for the 2012 early vegetable season. In 2012, Fazilov sold 5.5 tons of tomatoes and 2 tons of cucumbers, increasing his farm’s income by 51 percent from the previous year. With the increased profits, Fozilov has invested in a combine harvester and begun to reconstruct two additional greenhouses, which will also contribute to a sustainable increase in income in the years to come.
Fozilov Aslam told the USAID Productive Agriculture Project: "This greenhouse needs to be protected and multiplied to show that Tajik farmers can effectively use every piece of their land to increase their profits."