Alessandra Giuliani, Frederik van Oudenhoven, and Shoista Mubalieva (2011) Agricultural biodiversity in the Tajik Pamirs. Mountain Research and Development, 31(1):16-26.
OPEN ACCESS PAPER
This study investigates the role that local fruit varieties can play in achieving the dual objectives of food sovereignty and income generation in the Tajik Pamir Mountains.
In this very harsh environment, agriculture is characterized by a great diversity of fruit varieties central to local food culture and household security. Local fruit trees can grow in poor soils on slopes and their resistance to diseases,cold, and ultraviolet light give them marked advantages over introduced varieties. However, the humanitarian crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union and recent efforts by development organizations to create markets by introducing exotic varieties are negatively affecting agriculturalbiodiversity and, potentially, household security.
A study was carried out in 3 districts of the Gorno-Badakhshan province to investigate the household consumption and market potential of products derived from local varieties of apple, apricot, and mulberry and how these products could be better exploited to benefit community livelihoods and agrobiodiversity conservation. Results show that fruit represents the farmers’ main source of food and income. Many local varieties are maintained for a variety of reasons related to household consumption, whereas the main reason for cultivating introduced varieties is income generation. Great care must therefore be taken in planning market strategies: a pure market focus will almost certainly endanger household security, whereas a strategy linking income generation through the commercialization of crop varieties to the promotion of qualities central to household needs will improve diversity and public health. The opportunities identified to help enhance the market potential of local fruits and maintain the Pamir’s unique biocultural heritage include efforts to raise public awareness among producers and consumers of the nutritional and medicinal properties of local varieties; training for pest management, processing, and packaging; and the establishment of farmers’ cooperatives.
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