By Bruce Gregory
Special to the Journal
Last year, at the end of my ACDI / VOCA volunteer assignment to Tajikistan I was asked if I would consider returning in 2015. I have recently agreed to return to Central Asia and the country of Tajikistan this next Nov. 1 – 28 to assist 12 different groups of farmers in the Khatlon Province near the city of Qurghon-Teppa in the southwestern part of Tajikistan. My host will be the Shirin Dehkan Farm owned by Ms. Azizmo Makhmadieva and her family in Buston Village, A. Jomi District, Khatlan Province.
All of my expenses getting to and from Kyrgyzstan are paid for by VOCA/ACDI. My time in Tajikistan is volunteer time given by me.
The host family in Buston village is a family group of six females and ten males that collectively manage a 3 hectare (7.4 acre) orchard of apples, pears, plums, cherry, apricots, peaches, persimmons and almonds. I will also be working with farmers in 12 other districts of the Khatlon Province throughout my three week stay. There are another 200 indirect beneficiaries in the group, men, women and children.
The work I will be doing is to help the growers identify and start implementing improvements in their orchard management practices. There is little money for orchard technologies that we in the U.S. take for granted. I will be helping them improve their pruning methods, work on fertility and integrated pest management using mostly organic methods and providing them feed back on how they can take their limited resources and improve their quality of life through their farming and farms. Here are blog entries and photos posted last Jan. 16 and 23 upon my return.
The budget for this program does not include funds for simple pruning tools, sharpeners, educational materials, nor soil test kits which are in high demand.
I am now in the process of collecting as many of these items and materials as possible to take with me when I leave in November. If you, (or anyone you know), would consider donating funds of any amount to be used to procure the above mentioned items we would appreciate it. The Tajik farmers I worked with in 2014 were very appreciative of the tools presented to them during the orchard field days we held.
Last year I took over fifty pounds of tools including pruning loppers, hand pruners, soil test kits, folding saws, grafting knives, tool sharpeners and eye loops. Those items were paid for with donations from the San Juan Islands community. If you wish to donate money to this project please send a check, made out and mail to:
Mitchell Bay Farm & Nursery, Tajikistan Project,
1071 Mitchell Bay Rd. Friday Harbor, WA. 98250.
We can also receive funds via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reference the Tajikistan project with your gift contribution. If you have questions call me at 378-2309 or at: email@example.com. I will give several outreach presentations once I return so look forward to a visual presentation upon my return.