This article was originally written and published by ACDI/VOCA here.
Name: Bruce Gregory
Current title/profession: Resource Planner, District Management
Current hometown: San Juan Islands
Areas of expertise: Agriculture, natural resource management
Name of project: Farmer-to-Farmer Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (ECCA)
Location of the project: Tajikistan
Organization that sent the volunteer: ACDI/VOCA
Alisher Dehkan Farm in Tajikistan’s Khatlon Province has been producing apples, plums, bing cherry, pears, peaches, apricots, and almonds since 2009. Its owner, Firdavs Safarov, however, lacks solid orchard management skills. For example, each year he had to hire local pruning specialists to maintain his farm. But the associated costs limited profits. There was a time when Safarov considered selling the farm because it generated so little income.
Then Safarov learned that a volunteer consultant from the United States would be training local producers on key orchard management skills. During a one-day session in November 2014, ACDI/VOCA Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Bruce Gregory of Washington State instructed Safarov and others on orchard management best practices. And later, working together on his farm, Bruce taught Safarov important pruning techniques for different trees.
With the assignment completed, Bruce gave his host the pruning shears they used in gratitude for his hospitality. Safarov immediately applied the techniques Bruce taught him. Indeed, the farm went on to nearly double its production in 2015, with yearly sales climbing 25 percent to total 27,390 TJS ($4,150).
The simple exchange of knowledge between peers is a key contributor to Farmer-to-Farmer's success.