Land degradation in Central Asian countries is a serious threat, particularly considering the sizeable share of agriculture in these countries' GDP. Causes of land degradation are not only in irrational use of water resources, but also in the legacy of the pre-independence (pre-1991) system of land management when maintenance of soil health was considered least. Among different types of degradation soil salinization, erosion, and desertification are prevalent in Central Asia from such causes as high water losses from irrigation networks and overgrazing.
In its effort to consolidate existing (indigenous) knowledge and practices on sustainable land management (SLM) used by local agricultural producers, as well as promote their outscaling, Knowledge Management in CACILM II project has gathered and systematized more than 90 practices. Most of these practices, applicable to four main agro-ecosystems of the region: rainfed, irrigated, mountains and rangelands, have been tested at demonstration sites in each of the five countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
In Kazakhstan, the project team approached research institutes within the Ministry of Agriculture, and organized meetings with heads of farms. General observation was that majority of small- and large-scale producers in the country use crop production techniques developed for particular agriculture zone (termed as zonal system), originating or developed mainly during the Soviet period. The national team identified and described two technologies which were developed or adapted by farmers: cultivation of maize and soybeans that have potential to reduce land degradation through effective use of inputs. These described technologies include seed treatment with 'adaptogens' that increase crop yields by 25-30% and have very high irrigation water saving potential when combined with drip irrigation. These technologies are applicable to the other regions of Central Asia.
In Kyrgyzstan, national team visited farms in the north and south regions of the country. Farmers use traditional agricultural technologies for crop production leaving large scope for diffusion of innovation and SLM. Majority of those new SLM practices known and used among producers were essentially introduced by donor-supported projects carried out by variety of international organizations. Extension service organizations established and operating in the country continue spreading introduced SLM practices. The national team identified several additional technologies that looked promising for SLM: (i) cultivation of melon crops (watermelon) under polyethylene film, which protects seedlings from spring frosts, creates an optimum temperature for development of plants and ensures early, high yields; (ii) irrigation using plastic bottles, which helps save water and reduce soil erosion on bare lands; and (iii) growing crops on shallow rocky sandy soils, where fruit trees are planted in holes filled with fertile soils (sapropels) brought from organic sediments of lakes, ponds and reservoirs.
Uzbekistan country team also explored different approaches to identify traditional technologies adapted or developed by producers, with more emphasis on those farming larger areas. Based on interactions with farmers, the following technologies were proposed: (i) growing winter legumes (chickpea, soybean) in rainfed areas using direct seeding, which increases crop diversity and enriches soil health; (ii) cultivation of artichoke in low fertile irrigated soils, which helps improve soil condition, while producing artichoke flour for pharmaceutical industry; and (iii) production of biominfertilizer, which strengthens plants' immune system, intensifies photosynthesis and reduces vegetative period by 1.5-2 weeks.
Collected SLM prctices from available sources and those analyzed and selected by national teams have been described in a simplified template (simplified WOCAT template). Resulting synthesized SLM practices consisting of 75 technologies and 15 approaches were compiled into a book aggregated by dominant issues they address, such as soil fertility increase, soil tillage and crop cultivation, agroforestry and vegetation cover improvement, erosion control and working on slopes, water management at field level, fodder production and rangeland improvement, capacity enhancement of land users and environmental education. The book in English and Russian languages is available in the Technologies section of this website.
SLM practices collected by countries
Kazakhstan - 12
Kyrgyzstan - 18
Tajikistan - 21
Turkmenistan - 16
Uzbekistan - 23
TOTAL — 90 (15 approaches and 75 technologies)
Acting as an information repository and knowledge hub, this website helps to increase the use of innovations developed by the well-established CACILM Project in Central Asia. Its synthesis, compilation, and dissemination of current research provide a secure knowledge base that policymakers and other stakeholders can access and utilize to develop sustainable strategies capable of addressing the region’s severe land degradation.