The Fergana Valley is an intermountain depression between the mountain systems of the Tien-Shan in the north and the Gissar-Alai in the south. The valley is approximately 300 km long and up to 70 km wide, forming an area of 22,000 sq km. Its position makes it a separate geographic zone.
It is shared by Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It stretches to Sughd Region in Tajikistan. In Uzbekistan it covers parts of Namangan, Andijan and Fergana regions, while in Kyrgyzstan it includes parts of Batken, Jalal-abad and Osh regions. The total population is about 13 million.
Favorable conditions for agriculture have made the Fergana Valley the most densely populated part of Central Asia. While the population density of Central Asia as a whole is 40.8 people per square mile, in the Fergana Valley it is 1,600 people per square mile. It is also one of the fastest-growing regions within Central Asia, experiencing a population growth of 32% in the last 10 years.
The valley is the backbone of Central Asia's agriculture. It is a major producer of cotton, wheat, fruits, and raw silk. Because of local demand, many other crops are grown on a smaller scale as well. In Uzbekistan's part of the valley, these crops include carrots, maize, melons, mungbean, and rice, as well as groundnut and vegetables. Rice is double-cropped using drainage water if salinity is not too high. In southern areas, maize and mungbean are also double-cropped. In Tajikistan's part of the valley, small-scale farmers also practice double-cropping. Maize and mungbean are grown widely, followed by buckwheat, common bean, groundnut, millet, sesame, soybean, tobacco, and vegetables. When water availability is good, rice is also grown. In addition to annual crops, the area is covered with orchards, vineyards, walnut groves, and mulberry tree plantations (for silk production). Unfortunately, increasing population, poor land management, and industrialization have taken a toll on this verdant region. Deforestation and overgrazing, salinization of agricultural soils, erosion on mountain slopes are problems caused by recent human occupation and agricultural development.
The climate is dry and warm. In March the temperature reaches 20 °C, and then rapidly rises to 35 °C in June, July and August. During the five months following April precipitation is rare, but increases in frequency starting in October. Snow and frost, down to -20 °C occur in December and January. It is reported that over the past 30 years the average regional surface temperature in the Fergana Valley region has increased significantly. It is likely that climate change will primarily affect water and agriculture sectors, and that shortages of water associated with a significant increase in air surface temperatures will occur.
Figure 1. Fergana Valley Action Site Map.
The Integrated Research Team (IRT) aims to identify and alleviate the constraints to productivity growth as a predominant factor in increasing well-being (IDO 2 – (n-level)). In Fergana Valley, this is done through diversification and intensification of existing farming systems and better water management and allocation. This strategy responds to emerging challenges, such as climate change, population growth and scarcity of irrigation water, and will also increase resilience ((IDO 1 – (n-level)) in most vulnerable areas, i.e. the salinity affected and marginal parts of the Fergana Valley. Limited access to water is one of the principal constraints for increasing productivity in Fergana Valley (to be addressed within Water Use Efficiency (WUE) activity described below). Agriculture, including arable farming and livestock rearing, represents the major source of income and food security for the households. The better access to irrigation water enables the rural people to diversify their income sources, including non-farm livelihood activities, and to make savings. Research on constraint alleviation and understanding system-level trade-offs are key elements of the flagship. But these need to be put into the wider context of theory of change. Access to high quality seed materials, varieties, breeds, data and knowledge, advisory services, innovations, technologies, economic incentives, and institutional approaches are needed to enhance the resilience of smallholder farmers, livestock keepers, tree growers, and rural communities in general (to be addressed within the specific Activities described below: Livestock productivity; Varieties/on-farm trials, and Seed platform). The Interdisciplinary Research Team believes that agricultural research for development in Central Asia must be accompanied with effective processes for inclusive participation in the development and out-scaling of technologies, moving away from linear approaches of technology development and dissemination, and thereby addressing priority needs for rural communities and farm households. IRT sees an important role for “Innovation Platforms” and Knowledge management within the wider Central Asia Countries Initiative for Land Management (CACILM), in order to catalyze joint action in a region that is experiencing a profound economic and institutional transition. The flagship region Central Asia is interested in capitalizing on the strengths of an agricultural innovation platform to deliver development outcomes, by expanding upon its accepted technologically driven role to one that is inclusive of social and institutional innovations, as well as in influencing relevant policies. Ensuring system approach throughout the impact pathway, the technologically driven Activities are grouped into three inter-related clusters:
The system approach will be based on participatory planning and multi-disciplinary research, actively engaging end-users and beneficiaries to test and scale out a range of interventions, technologies, and research methods, using innovation platforms, multi-stakeholder dialogues, and foresight mechanisms that involve partners from the research, policy, development and civil-society sectors. Therefore, cluster activities (n-2 level) and sub-activities (n-3 level) are implemented in different phases: (1) Discovery, (2) Proof of concept, (3) Pilot and (4) Scaling up.
IRT and local partners involved in the Drylands CRP have embraced participatory and inclusive research planning and implementation, while the system approach based on multi-stakeholder representation is be based on congruent decision taking. Under the agreed strategy, a gap analysis will reveal niches that need to be addressed comprehensive set of measures, considering the Drylands CRP theory of change. However, this gap analysis is not a one-time tool, but a continuous mechanism that monitoring and evaluation in Central Asia will practice. It is based on four main pillars: (i) multi-stakeholder dialogue, (ii) data management, (iii) innovation platform, and (iv) foresight. All the four components are interlinked and overlapping to ensure effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, sustainability and impacts for improving resilience and wellbeing in the region.
Given this understanding, the IRT suggests that ongoing and planned activities together with those that will be revealed by gap analysis to ensure system approach, will gradually contribute to Capacity to Innovate (IDO 5 – (n-1-level) of farmers and households, up-take and application of sustainable Natural Resources Management IDO 4 – (n-1-level), which will ensure that women and children/households have year round access to greater quantity and diversity of food sources (IDO 3 – (n-1-level).
The described approach will take into account strengthening gender equity in the CRP Dryland Systems in Central Asia with its specific landscape, agro-ecological, socio-economic, cultural, and historical conditions in Central Asia. These include the legacy of Soviet centrally planned economy and its transition to market economy; currently high labor migration; high dependence of food and nutritional security on land and water use; diversity of livelihood and production systems, and cultural aspects. Therefore, Gender empowerment (IDO 5 – (n-1-level) is considered a cross cutting issue at all levels of the Impact pathway, from n-2 to n- levels, ie. Reducing vulnerability and managing risk through increased resilience (IDO1) and Sustainable intensification for more productive, profitable and diversified systems (IDO2).
This multi-stakeholder, multi-institutional process together with other development initiatives and joint efforts, proactive cooperation of policy/government institutions, diversity of national and regional organization and thematic networks, CGIAR and non-CGIAR centers, other CRPs throughout the process of change will contribute to the System Level outcomes (SRF), ie.:
Figure 2. Impact pathway CRP DS Fergana Valley