Around 50 senior officials and representatives from the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and a number of government agencies in Uzbekistan convened in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on 26 September 2022 to discuss an action plan and next steps for a multi-year project in Karakalpakstan, a republic within Uzbekistan.
Titled “Development of Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems in Degraded Areas of Karakalpakstan”, the project is financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) and is implemented by ICBA through its Regional Office for Central Asia and the South Caucasus in Uzbekistan in partnership with the Ministry of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan.
Hosted by the Ministry of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan, the stakeholder workshop was attended by ICBA’s senior management and scientists led by Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi, Director General of ICBA; representatives from ADFD (virtually); and senior government officials, including H.E. Academician Ibrokhim Abdurakhmanov, Minister of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan; Mr. Zokhidjon Ziyadullaev, Minister of Agriculture of Karakalpakstan; H.E. Mr. Hurram Teshabaev, Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan; H.E. Mrs. Shahlo Turdikulova, Deputy Minister of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan; and H.E. Mr. Alisher Shukurov, Senior Advisor to Minister of Agriculture of Uzbekistan.
In his opening address, H.E. Academician Ibrokhim Abdurakhmanov, Minister of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan, said: “I would like to express our appreciation to the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development for providing practical support and financial assistance to mitigate the challenges in the Aral Sea region. And I also wish to thank our long-term partner, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture, and its leadership for the center’s research efforts in the country.”
Running from 2022 to 2026, the project is designed to enhance farming communities’ resilience to climate change and develop their adaptive capacity to land degradation and other unfavorable factors. This will be achieved through, among other things, the introduction of stress-resilient crops, best practices in crop, soil and water management, and integrated farming systems.
Dr. Tarifa Alzaabi, Director General of ICBA, said: “At ICBA, we believe that science and innovation can help to address such risks not only in the Aral Sea region but in all marginal environments around the world. And this rationale is at the heart of this project supported by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. It brings together our long-time partners such as the Ministry of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan under a common goal of supporting resource-poor rural communities and restoring degraded ecosystems in the Aral Sea region. There is great potential for transforming degraded areas of the Aral Sea region into places where science and innovation offer hope for a better and more sustainable future for rural communities. To achieve this vision, we are meeting today with all stakeholders - from scientists to donors to policymakers - to develop a clear road map to ensure the project’s success.”
In his video message, Mr. Ali Humaid Al Derei, Projects Manager at ADFD, said: “This project holds great significance for us at ADFD. It is one of those that we perceived to be an agent of a positive change through stimulating global food security and resilience in addition to its role in mitigating climate change impact in the Aral Sea region. This cooperation that involves ADFD’s long-term and extensive experience in financing development, as well as the technical expertise and strong capabilities of ICBA, and expertise of Uzbekistan’s ministries of agriculture, innovation and international cooperation, will indeed be successful in producing contextual solutions for challenges facing the agricultural community in Karakalpakstan. More importantly, the expected outcomes of the cooperation are diverse. It will balance the long-term impacts of building capacities of the agricultural sector in Karakalpakstan in addition to the immediate impact of creating jobs for farmers and promoting agribusinesses. As from today up to the completion of this project, we are confident that we will all work together to utilize every single opportunity to improve the project development process and maximize its impact as it evolves in the next four years.”
Following the workshop, ICBA’s project team involving senior scientists and local partners visited field experiments at the International Innovation Center for the Aral Sea Basin and the Karakalpakstan Agriculture Research Institute.
The overall goal of the project is to engage local and international organizations to support national agricultural development policies, as defined in Uzbekistan’s Agri-Food Development Strategy 2019-2030, contribute to the country’s efforts to improve food security and nutrition among vulnerable rural communities and several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDGs 1, 2, 5, 13 and 17. What is more, it is expected to directly benefit up to 15,000 farmers and agropastoralists and their households (up to 75,000 people), develop the capacity of up to 150 extension workers and establish or strengthen up to 15 farmers’ cooperatives.