Spring is the time to work in the field. Farmers are lost in large arable lands from sunrise to sunset with the hope of feeding the population. The #GCARD3 Regional Consultation recently held in Bishkek was an early act of sowing, to give farmers new opportunities to ensure the food security of the region.
But the farmers of border villages in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are not busy only in the fields. Now begins the season of conflict.
Every year, with the beginning of the spring planting season, Kyrgyz and Tajik villagers find themselves faced with a problem: how to evenly divide the irrigated lands and irrigation water. Because, since the collapse of the USSR, the boundary line between these two countries has not been fully delineated. conflict during the spring months becomes so severe that it seems that even if the boundary line were clearly drawn on the map, the difficulties will not be resolved.
The Tajik region of Isfara is located in the Fergana Valley at the junction of the borders of three states – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. In these areas the demarcation of borders is still not complete. There are many disputed areas and sources of instability. Among the villagers living in the border areas of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, conflicts practically never cease.
Livestock is the main source of income in the village of Chorkuh in the Isfara region. The foothills along the villages of the Isfara district are being passed to Kyrgyzstan. Shepherds are at a loss, because 50 years ago their parents grew cereals even in the high plains. Today, local forests and pastures are protected by Kyrgyz border guards. Tajik herders face daily difficulties.
Shepherd Buston Tulatov from Chorkuh says: “Border guards were not here before. These mountains have a Tajik name, not Kyrgyz. But the Kyrgyz are taking a share from us for grazing cattle. They take money for the calf and cattle. Sometimes soldiers are swearing at us. After the military came the situation became worse. Prices rose.”
Kabir gathers firewood all year round. He takes the donkey, and climbs high into the mountains. He trades in the market brushwood. Now Kyrgyz soldiers call local woodcutters trespassers. Tajik chippers are the main object of attention of the Kyrgyz border guards. Kabir, like others, has to pay tribute for the opportunity to gather firewood.
Woodman Kabir Bozorov: “When we go down from the mountains there are soldiers barring our passage. They demand money: $10-15 each week. We go to collect firewood in order to earn money. We have no other job in the village. In one instance, soldiers began to threaten to my friends and took their car ”
The length of the frontier between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is more than 900 kilometers. Over the past four years, the commission on delimitation and demarcation has been able to deal with only half of it. The rest of the territories still remain under controversy.
Participating in the very important #GCARD3 Regional Consultation in the CAC Region, I listened to more than 20 presentations. Scientists, representatives of state structures from various countries, non-governmental organizations, individuals and even the younger generation are scratching heads to solve the problem of food security. But nobody addressed the influence that border conflicts can have on food security.
I think that agriculture in the border villages is a separate and equally important issue, which is waiting to be solved. If I get a chance to speak among the large audience in #GCARD3 in Johannesburg for example, I would certainly like to make a presentation about agriculture in lands delineated by red lines. In just a couple of decades many people of the world will face a serious problem: hunger. This problem will only be exacerbated by sociopolitical contexts and limited resources that turn communities against each other.
We must not forget: hunger knows no bounds.
Blogpost by Khosiyat Komilova, #GCARD3 Social Reporter –Khosiyatkhon.komilova(a)gmail.com
Photo credit: Khosiyat Komilova
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.