Farmers are bringing degraded land back into productive use
More than 100 rural farmers and dehkhans (small farmers) from four settlements located in the area of Baday-tugay nature reserve of Amudarya district of Karakalpakstan, including Nazarkhan, Hoja Kol, Bekbay and Kipchak settlements, completed a comprehensive course on “Sustainable forest and land management in the buffer and transition areas of the re-established Lower-Amudarya state biosphere reserve”. The trainings were organized by the UN Joint Programme “Sustaining livelihoods affected by the Aral Sea disaster” implemented jointly by five UN agencies in Uzbekistan, including UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO and UNV in cooperation with the Government of Uzbekistan and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.
The Joint Programme is financed by the UN Human Security Trust Fund. In order to enhance income generation opportunities and provide food security, the Joint Programme started introducing improved agricultural practices and sustainable land management techniques among rural population. Considering the specific nature conditions of Aral Sea area and the consequences of environmental crisis, in order to maximize harvest farmers and dehkhans very often apply unsustainable land management practices such as use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which continue contaminating land, air and ground waters. In the meantime, the buffer zone of Lower-Amudarya biosphere reserve sets out specific requirements that prohibit the use of chemical fertilizers in the area and demand provision of safe distance that will prevent the penetration of contaminated ground waters into the bio-reserve. The main goal of the trainings is to raise the awareness of rural population of the requirements of the bio-reserve zones, as well as explain the causes and consequences of land degradation. The participants learned the best practices, technologies and approaches to sustainable forest and land management, as well as received valuable knowledge and skills needed to raise land fertility.
The trainers paid particular attention to the interactive part of the training. The participants were engaged in group work and solved tasks related to planning on local level and waste composting. Over the course of the group work, the participants had an opportunity to analyze a case study and select an approach and technology to prevent further land degradation. As a result of the training, more 100 rural dwellers learned the foundation of income generating activities in agriculture, principals of reservation of tugay forests, and developed an action plan on sustainable land management.