– Me: Is there any future for organic food businesses in Kyrgyzstan?
– Dr. Igor Hadjamberdiev: It is the only future.
My journey towards organic food production started with an FAO project I worked on last year. The goal of the project was to research the problems of using pesticides. A big part of the project was interviewing around 400 farmers who use pesticides in their agriculture. The results of these interviews were an eye opener. The amount of pesticides used on fresh food crops was colossal.
The results of the research made me aware of the usage of pesticides. There were cases where people were even killed by toxification.
But there is more. We have been exhausting our soil with the use of pesticides. Pesticides – even in very small amounts – are present in all of our food today. They tend to accumulate in all living organisms: in our body and even, in nature itself.
As humankind concentrates on mass food production in order to fight hunger, more pesticides and fertilizers are being used. This is depleting even more soil and contaminating even more natural resources. A vicious cycle.
So what was the solution? Go organic? Would organic farming be profitable? Even here, in Kyrgyzstan?
I interviewed an expert. Dr. Igor Hadjamberdiev, who has a PhD in biology, who told me: “Kyrgyzstan can’t compete with countries like Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan, as we have far less arable land. But, we have pure soil, which is not overly contaminated with pesticides. This creates a great opportunity for organic production.”
I then thought, all we have to do is raise awareness and start to act rationally. For farmers and consumers, organic production is trendy. In addition, organic food businesses focus on benefiting both buyers and sellers, as well as for the economy and overall health.
In my journey toward organic food production, I met entrepreneurs who laughed at me saying that my care for people’s health would lead me to bankruptcy. They said I would not get investment support. But still, I continued to chase my dream.
I visited a top greenhouse organic food producer. He convinced me that indeed, it was feasible. He even helped me realize that it was possible to turn it into a profitable business.
So last year, I got a loan and built my first greenhouse with my own hands. With my companions, we started to grow seedlings. Our first batch of seedlings is now almost ready to be planted.
I would love to conclude this story with “There, you see, it is a profitable AND healthy AND an environmentally friendly business.” But we are not there yet. Give us another six months after our first crop is harvested. We still hope…
Challenges are still ahead of us. The only thing I can already tell you: Don’t panic. Go organic.
Blogpost by Aybek Rudbekov, #GCARD3 Social Reporter – a.rudbek(at)gmail.com
Picture courtesy of Aybek Rudbekov
This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Central Asia and the Caucasus. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.