Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country where 63% of people live in rural areas. The share of agriculture in GDP and the share of the employed in the industry over the last 5 years are steadily decreasing. The growth rate of value addition in agriculture is far behind the national average. Although, Kyrgyzstan has been an agrarian country during the soviet time, after the collapse, the agriculture sector became fragmented. Experts say that the potential of the agriculture sector in Kyrgyzstan is in specialization on certain crops that have high potential, promotion and branding rather than trying to produce mass agriculture products. The potential is in the quality.
The problems of rural development in Kyrgyzstan are very much linked to problems in agriculture. Many young people from farming families prefer employment in urban centers rather than in agriculture. In Issyk-Kul region, the young people are more or less busy during spring-autumn, but then have no employment during the winter time. No more than a third of the people who have an authorized permission to use land for agriculture have no jobs in winter time. Organic agriculture could be a solution for unemployment, but strong support is needed to the youth to create their businesses. Agro climatic conditions in Kyrgyzstan allow the production of a wide range of organic agriculture products that have a high demand in local, regional and international food markets.
ICCO-Cooperation launched the Bio.KG Community Development project entitled ''Organic Aymaks in Issyk-Kul'' in 5 pilot areas in November 2014, and in January 2015 ICCO-Cooperation delegated the mandate to Fair & Sustainable Development Solutions (FSDS). The main partner is Bio-KG Federation of Organic Development. 5 Ayil Okmotus (AOs) were selected to start organic farming in accordance with the PGS (Participatory Guarantee System) approach. The key idea is to convert the whole farmer community to organic. Selected villages have had their general meetings and decided to join organic, and the decision was taken by village councils. So far, trainings have been conducted on organic farming, cattle artificial insemination, village administration capacity building; tools and seeds for artificial insemination were granted to all target AOs; greenhouses in selected villages are under construction; drip irrigation will be introduced in the upcoming months; farmer groups were identified and organized; database of farmers has been started.
Organic farming addresses the basic needs of rural farmers as it considers use of at hand and natural tools in farming. Organic farming contributes to the living standards of the rural population not only by higher prices for organic products and lower costs of inputs but also with improving environmental and health conditions of the farmers. Depending on different conditions, organic farming can increase current yields up to 20-30%, which directly reflects on the income of the farmers.
The action aims the following particular results: outreach to 5000 farmers in remote villages including women led farming households and women groups and youth groups. The action pays particular interest to the environment through the use of organic fertilizers and farming techniques contributing to a sustainable environment. The capacity building of local farmers incudes: production and use of organic fertilizers and farming methodologies for various agriculture products like potatoes, herbs and honey, strengthening of farmer groups, development of the participative guarantee system for organic farming, farm inspection and marketing including pricing, publicity, promotion, branding and distribution. The action will engage in the co-organization and facilitation of the annual National Organic Forum and Organic Trade Fair.
The project is also aimed at certification and promotion of products of the selected villages. The products will be marketed under the brand of “Organic Aymak”. The practice shows that the concept of organic aymak binds farmers under a common goal and makes them cooperate better. The proposed setup will lead to specialization of farmers, increased farming knowledge and provide access to local and international markets. The Organic Aymaks will be linked with traders and processors who form an important stable market for producers.