A Sweet Recipe: How You Can Help an Economy
If you look up Tajikistan on Kiva you can find some loans for 50$ and 75$, but you also can find 4,000$ loans. On average farming vegetables and fruit loans are between 125$-900$ (there are those that are over, but the good portion lie within this range). These loans are small compared to the rest of the loans from Tajikistan, but they have monumental impact.
If you read any of the economic stats on Tajikistan a few things jump out at you. Number one) they do not export a lot and number two) the area in which to make these commodities are few and far between. The list of exports are: Aluminum, electricity, cotton, fruits, than vegetable oil.
Less than 7% of the land is arable in Tajikistan (total land is 55,251 sq mi), and a little less than 1/3 of the arable land is currently used to grow cotton (future blog post). That leaves 2/3 of 7% of the land to grow the last two exports. Which wouldn’t be too bad if 44% of the labor force wasn’t involved in agriculture, unfortunately it is. Today Soviet style collective farms still exist in some areas, taking away more land. So the amount of land available is extremely small, and usually the best land is taken up by state farms. There is also issues of ignorance of the market and basics of marketing, as well as natural risks, but the biggest problem of driving down profits is that farmers have to sell their crops RIGHT AWAY. They can’t save their products and sell them off-season. This is where our partner organizations come in.
Currently most partner organizations have someone to help explain the best ways for people to get the most out of their land, as explained amazingly well by Roz, giving added benefits to agricultural loans. These loans can create huge returns. The northern part of Tajikistan and south-western part, are extremely fertile regions. Also at least two of the partner organizations in Tajikistan work with farmers to help them create storage facilities for their fruits, purchase basic boxes and crates, as well. You wont see these loans on Kiva, but they are offered just the same.
Around this time of year you can see melons and other fruits everywhere in Tajikistan. Stacked high in markets, on the streets, and sometimes in traveling trucks.
These fruits and melons are transported and sold as far away as St. Petersburg and Kiev in the West and, I am told, Beijing in the East. These small loans for fertilizer and seed may seem simple, but in this land they not only help the small farmers grow their production, but they also lead to an increase in exports (which help the country by raising the foreign currency reserves). At the same time, working with the different products (loan and otherwise) from the Micro Finance institutions, the entrepreneur can earn enough money without leaving the country. This leads to less reason to try to find work abroad, of which large amounts of the male population do for at least part of the year (read here). So the loan of say 350 dollars can help the person receiving the loan, the family of the person receiving the loan, and the whole country in multiple ways.
Due to the sudden influx of fruits and vegetables in the market right now in Tajikistan, I created a dish, which I give to you for all the help you have given to Tajik entrepreneurs. It is not a traditional Tajik dish, but it is made in Tajikistan for the cost of 1.50$. Eat, Enjoy, and Encourage your friends to support Tajik entrepreneurs.
Tajik Summer on Rice (or other Starch)
6 green bell peppers
Two Hot peppers (better if its only 1 or even better 1/2 depending on your spice threshold)
Soy Sauce/Balsamic Vinegar
2 Big Peaches/4-5 Small Peaches
Cooking time: 15-25 minuets
Feeds: 2/3 depending
Cut green bell peppers length wise into quarters put in frying pan.
Cut hot peppers (anyway you would like) put into frying pan.
Put a little oil in the pan and place on stove top at near high heat
for 1-2 min. Until they begin to get a bit brown.
Cut peaches into slices.
Add 1-3 tablespoons of honey and 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce/balsamic
vinegar to green bell peppers.
Keep at heat, stir for 1-2 minuets.
Add peaches turn down heat. If peaches are really ripe, they will begin to turn to mush (that’s good) if they are not ripe they will begin to carmalize (also good).
Add pinch/two of salt.
Add a Teaspoon or so, of Soy Sauce/Balsamic Vinegar.
Stir for 2-3 minuets.
Take off and let cool for 2-3 minuets while you finish preparing rice.
Put rice on your plate. Put this on top of it.
Works without the spicy peppers as well, if you do not like spice.
I am told by others who I have given this to, that you can use pasta (pictured) or potatoes as well, and you can add chicken if you would like some meat.
Sam Kendall is a Kiva Fellow currently in Northern Tajikistan.