Why are Tajik gardeners disappointed with intensive apple orchards?
Why are Tajik gardeners disappointed with intensive apple orchards?
Many new modern apple orchards, established in Tajikistan with the use of elements of modern cultivation technologies, can be uprooted as early as next year
In Tajikistan, a threatening situation is brewing for intensive gardening – many new modern apple orchards, established using elements of modern cultivation technologies, may be uprooted as early as next year.
EastFruit experts have tried to understand the reasons for this phenomenon. To do this, our colleague from Tajikistan Bakhtiyor Abduvohidov, a consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), talked to the country’s gardeners, and experienced agronomists-consultants with experience in the country presented their vision of the reasons and ways to remedy the situation.
The farmers we interviewed had a total of about 35 hectares of fruit-bearing apple orchards, planted on average 4.3 years ago. Most of them grew gardens on M-9 dwarf rootstocks, although, in part, there were also semi-dwarf MM-106.
When laying these orchards, they, as a rule, consulted with the sellers of seedlings, who promised that, subject to the technology, in the fourth year they would be able to receive at least 35-40 tons of high-quality apples per hectare, and upon reaching full fruiting – about 60 -70 tons per hectare.
In reality, the farmers we interviewed received an average of about 7 tons per hectare of apples this year, and this is taking into account non-commercial products that are handed over for processing. That is, the yield turned out to be 5-6 times lower than expectations, which makes many gardeners think about uprooting intensive apple orchards and laying in their place orchards and vineyards more familiar to Tajikistan.
Tuigunov Boymurod, a gardener who owns an intensive apple orchard and advises other apple growers, sees three main reasons for the problems: “The problems in Tajikistan are primarily the weather,” says Boimurod.
“In the future, those who constantly have problems with frost and hail will leave, especially those who grow apples in regions that are not traditional for apple orchards. Where apples have always grown, the areas will expand. In all regions of Tajikistan, hail is the main threat to apple orchards. The second reason for the problems is the low qualifications of those who give advice on the use of plant protection products and the quality of the plant protection products themselves. Finding them and using them correctly is a specific problem for us. The third problem is the lack of technology. For example, where you can cut grass, then there are no people, then there is money. And if there is a technique, then it is easy to do. And it is possible to spray with technology faster and better. But not everyone does it. Those who do not process chemistry will receive nothing. Farmers do not always have time for their garden, if household chores arise, they first solve household problems, and then garden problems. Therefore, the result is bad – and they see what (high) prices are in Dushanbe, but they have already missed the opportunity, ”explains Mr. Tuigunov.
Gardener Nosir Boboev from Penjikent, Zeravshan Valley, planted an intensive apple orchard on two hectares in 2016, acquiring seedlings in Serbia. He is trying to grow apples of varieties “Golden Delicious”, “Granny Smith” and “Idared”, but he is already thinking about getting rid of the business, which so far brings only losses.
This year the farmer managed to collect only 6 tons of apples, of which only 4 tons are of high quality. He believes that the worms are to blame. “Because of them, a lot of apples fell from the trees. Last year, we also received only 4 tons of apples from two hectares. And despite the fact that the garden is on drip irrigation, we give fertilizers through a drop, and on a leaf, and even additionally at the root. But the proceeds from the sale of the crop do not even cover the cost of fertilizers and protective products, which are very expensive. I will do it differently next year. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll replace the garden. It’s good that I have another business, ”says Nosir Boboev.
“In the valley for many years now, an unstable harvest, now worms, now bad weather, now hail will beat. The people who grow an apple by the old-fashioned method do not work in apple orchards at all – they come to their orchards a couple of times a year and always during the harvest period … If God willing, they take it, and if not, then no, because the costs are also minimal. There are many pests here, and people are not ready to spend money to fight them. There is a lot of hail and rain in our region during flowering – you need to use a net, but you won’t make money on it, ”explains the gardener.
Nina Dmitrash, FAO international consultant on horticultural technologies, who has been in Tajik gardens and regularly communicates with gardeners of this country, helps them understand various technological problems, believes that gardeners cannot just take a “new” technology and implement it without changes. It must be adapted to the conditions of the growing region, taking into account both climatic conditions and the specifics of soils. “In Tajikistan, unfortunately, there is still not enough knowledge and understanding of the technological methods of intensive gardening for growing apples. They often write to me from Tajikistan and ask for advice. For example, they ask why the fruits of the “Gala” variety cracked and the process of decay began. I ask if this garden was provided with moisture, was calcium introduced, did they carry out treatments against storage diseases, and did they start harvesting on time? Answer: “Why water if we are already planning to pick an apple ?! Why process if we do not plan or do not have the opportunity to store it ?! “And maturity is determined by color and taste, that is,” by eye “, – Nina gives an example.
See also: “Master class on pruning an intensive apple orchard in Georgia from Nina Dmitrash”
That is, there is a shortage of even basic knowledge of intensive gardening technologies, which results in a high apple yield with high quality parameters.
“This year there were frosts in early spring, the fruits did not set well and the yield was not high. Most of the flowers fell off, flowering was massive, but there was no ovary. From an area of 4.5 hectares, we received about 15 tons – this is considered nothing. And we had a problem with the formation of trees, so deep pruning was done in winter, maybe this also influenced. Unfortunately, in Tajikistan, we have problems with specialists and we have poor agricultural technology, ”says one of the pioneers of intensive apple orchard farming in the country, Nasrullo Sayfulaev, representing the dekhkan (farm) farm“ SEROB ”. Nasrullo has high hopes for the next season and has not yet given up the garden, because he sees a good laying of fruit buds this year.
Read also: Why in the current season the winegrowers of Tajikistan could not get a high harvest?
Abdusator Khaidarov, the head of the Nexigol group of companies, owns a network of agricultural stores in the country and imports plant protection products from Europe. In addition, he has 2 hectares of intensive apple orchards, in which he grows more than 15 varieties based on M-106 and M-9. He uses them to demonstrate modern technologies, but Abdusator refused from drip irrigation of the garden.
“Drip irrigation was the first three years, I switched to irrigation ditches when the seedlings took root. At that stage it became more profitable, because after three years it was necessary to change the system, and then they decided to leave it as it is – on the irrigation ditch. And now it makes no sense, in our opinion, ”says Mr. Khaidarov.
Since the entrepreneur communicates with many farmers, he has his own understanding of the problems of growing apples in Tajikistan.
“Problem number 1 is implementation and lack of storage. Farmers are forced to hand over an apple from 1.5 to 4 somoni per kg, and those who buy an apple earn much more than a farmer by storing it. Growing apples becomes boring. “
At the same time, the gardeners we interviewed said that they sell an apple at an average of 6.2 somoni per kg (about 60 US cents per kg), which is a very high price. After all, these prices are not now in most other countries in the region. At the same time, even for a non-marketable apple, according to the interviewed farmers, you can get up to 3 somoni per kg (29 US cents), while in Ukraine, Moldova and Poland, for example, such an apple can rarely be sold for more than 5-10 cents per kg. …
In addition to problems with sales, Abdusator Khaidarov also sees a lack of technological knowledge and a lack of gardening equipment among farmers among the main problems.
According to Andrey Yarmak, an economist at the FAO Investment Department, who has been working with the fruit and vegetable sector in Tajikistan for more than five years, it is the lack of basic education and a sufficient level of understanding of the logic of the use of intensive technologies that is one of the main problems of the industry. “Poland introduced intensive gardening, when millions of citizens of the country went to work in the gardens of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and other EU countries, receiving, in addition to money, also knowledge and understanding of modern approaches to gardening. At the same time, basic education tried to keep up with modern requirements – students and teachers of agricultural universities had practical training at modern enterprises and tried to introduce this into the educational process. Even so, not everything worked out right away – there were mistakes and disappointments in Poland, too, ”says Andriy Yarmak.
“Tajik gardeners should not hope for instant results – after all, intensive gardening is a daily hard work. However, to begin with, there is a lot to learn. There are many options for how you can get hands-on experience. For example, you can arrange your employees or relatives to work in horticultural enterprises in Moldova or Ukraine, where there will be no big problems with the language barrier. It is also possible to organize intensive hands-on training for relatively little money in these countries. It is even easier to go to Uzbekistan, where there are already a number of relatively successful apple producers, and get practical experience there. Even more can be learned from Iran, where gardening is developing rapidly, ”recommends Andrey Yarmak.
He also believes that it would be nice if all growers came together in an association that could become a center for the accumulation of knowledge and experience in intensive gardening. “The association would accelerate the transformation of the horticultural business, as well as become a marketing center for joining the efforts of manufacturers to sell finished products and even to purchase quality material and technical resources, equipment and other elements of horticultural technologies,” says an FAO economist.
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