Sustaining agricultural biodiversity in the face of climate change in Tajikistan

Introduction

According to the Russian botanist and geneticist, Nikolai Vavilov, Tajikistan is a storehouse of globally important agro-biodiversity. Tajikistan’s agricultural biodiversity is not only of importance to the livelihoods of rural communities, to the local economy, and to local long-term food security, but also to global food security particularly in light of the future challenges of global climate change.

The project will, through local pilot activities based on the Homologue Approach, covering approximately 1.5 million hectares, test and demonstrate replicable ways in which rural farmers and communities can benefit from agro-biodiversity conservation in ways that also build their capacities to adapt to climate change.

The project, in partnership with the National Biodiversity and Biosafety Centre, the UNDP Communities Programme, and the GEF Small Grants Programme, will feature three inter-linked complementary processes. The first focuses on strengthening existing policy and regulatory frameworks in support of agro-biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change, with emphasis on local level implementation. The second focuses on developing community, institutional, and system capacity to enable farmers and agencies to better adapt to climate risks through the conservation and use of agro-biodiversity. The third focuses on the development of agro-enterprises that support the conservation and production of agro-biodiversity friendly products, with a view to providing farmers and communities with alternative sources of income to offset the negative impacts and shocks related to climate change.

Project Details

The objective of the project is “Globally significant agro-biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change are embedded in agricultural and rural development policies and practices at national and local levels in Tajikistan.”

The country is one of the centers of origin for cultivated plants worldwide. Diverse climatic, geological, and environmental conditions gave rise to this rich biodiversity, best indicated by almost 9,800 plant accessions recorded in Tajikistan. Many of the landraces and their wild relatives potentially house resistances and tolerances to pests, diseases, and to abiotic stresses. As such, they constitute a valuable source of genetic material for future germplasm enhancement programmes around the world.

The project seeks to remove the barriers to conservation and adaptation of the globally significant agro-biodiversity of Tajikistan by a combination of interventions targeting capacity development (at systemic, institutional and individual level), in situ and ex situ agro-biodiversity conservation measures and market development in support of socio-ecological adaptation to climate change. Managing for socio-ecological resilience recognizes the opportunities provide by effectively managed agricultural ecosystems in supporting the environment and dependent communities to absorb shocks, regenerate and reorganize so as to maintain key functions, economic prosperity, social wellbeing and political stability. Strengthening the capacity of farmers to anticipate and plan for climate related changes while buying time for ecological recovery through effective local ecosystem management creates powerful and cost-effective opportunities for meaningful action to cope with unavoidable climate change impacts.

Ex situ conservation of the Poaceae family is relatively straightforward and has already been the objective of collections made by various research organizations (e.g., CGIAR Centers and national bodies such as the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and US Department of Agriculture) concerned with the improvement of major food crops such as wheat, barley, forages and legumes. Seeds of wild relatives of these crops are straightforward to collect and conserve in gene banks at low temperature, with periodic growing out to ensure their viability. A much more intractable problem is in situ conservation of recalcitrant species, i.e., species that cannot be conserved as seeds at low temperature. The in situ conservation proposed in this project is therefore a modification of the specialized nursery methodology, making use of the locally adapted germplasm currently grown in home gardens throughout the country.

The project will concentrate on the conservation in situ of perennial germplasm and understanding the impact of climate variability by using the Homologue Approach, where the climates that will be encountered in 2050 already exist at lower altitudes. The project will select sites using an environmental agro-climatic model such that sites will be paired with their year 2050 homologues. For each village selected, another village will be chosen to represent its year 2050 climatic homologue. For example, by interpolation on the data of the 18 global circulation models, the temperatures of Khishkat, in the Zeravshan Valley in central-west Tajikistan, will increase by about 3 degrees by 2050.

The adiabatic lapse rate is 6°C per 1000 m, so a site 500 m lower than Khishkat today has a temperature climate the same that Khishkat will have in 2050. That is, Khishkat at 1440 m altitude will have roughly the same temperature regime that Pendzhikent, at 990 m altitude, has today. A census on varieties growing at Pendzhikent will show what adaptation will be required at Khishkat over the next 40 years. Homologue approach can be applied to determine which present day communities will be like our selected communities in 50 years time in the face of climate change. Those identified communities and farmers would then also get to see and gradually prepare for their futures in terms of agro-biodiversity. Germplasm maintenance and exchange will allow farmers to gradually adapt to new conditions via the introduction of cultivars from homologous sites. People from, for example, site 1a will be able to visit and learn from site 1b, which will represent conditions at site 1a in the year 2050. The 18 GCMs provide best bet estimates of how climate will change at the selected sites. The visitors will see their own futures; they will learn what they will and will not be able to grow; they will be able to see if conditions are the same, worse, or better, and in which ways, and establish what they will have as options in terms of agro-biodiversity.

Over the next decades, they will be able to obtain the germplasm that they will gradually need more and more. Forewarned through the project use of Homologue approach, farmers and communities will be forearmed. Under the Homologue Approach, the initially selected communities can also “donate” to the future; and in so doing conserve their present agro-biodiversity by improving the futures of their own as well as other communities. As a result of the application of the Homologue Approach, it is anticipated that long-term adaptive measures will include effective policy implementation for the conservation of agro-biodiversity, capacity building for improved resources and agricultural management, and for management, largely in situ, of genetic resources. A project emphasis on agro-enterprise development (both nationally and internationally and perhaps in the area of certified organic fair-trade fruit and nut products) will seek to increase farmers’ financial returns and ensure meaningful community based participation.

Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Local communities (jamoats), NGOs, farmers and local authorities.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Republic of Tajikistan National Biodiversity and Biosafety Centre
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project Status: 
Under Implementation
Location: 
Rural
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
$950,000 USD
Co-Financing Total: 
$2,100,000 USD

Key Results and Outputs

Component 1: Agro-biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change through supportive policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks.

  • Output 1.1: Agrobiodiversity conservation and adaptation principles are mainstreamed into local and national agricultural, trade and industry policies and programmes.
  • Output 1.2: Extension package for promoting climate resilient farmer varieties developed and integrated into the national extension service package and delivery system.
  • Output 1.3: Capacity and accountability of local government to enforce policies, sectoral guidelines and spatial plans in support of agro-biodiversity conservation and adaptation to climate change increased in 4 pilot areas.
  • Output 1.4: CSOs and local government in pilot areas have skills to actively support communities to integrate ABD conservation into farming systems, build adaptive capacity, and link such production to private sector markets.
  • Output 1.5: Capacity building programme implemented to ensure institutions charged with responsibility for managing the ex and in-situ gene banks are effective.
  • Output 1.6: ABD policies applied in four pilot areas & adopted in a minimum of 40 home gardens/farms supporting implementation.
  • Output 1.7: Local level producer societies for specific crops (such as fig, pistachio, walnut, pomegranate, apricot, almond, mulberry) promoted as a mechanism of incentives for adoption (linking farmers to markets, and credit).
  • Output 1.8: Development of long-term strategy for conservation and sustainable use of ABD and adaptation to climate change.

Component 2: Improved capacity for sustaining agro-biodiversity in the face of climate change.

  • Output 2.1: Farmers/communities in the 4 pilot areas provided with skills and knowledge to increase farm productivity (and food security) using climate resilient agro-biodiversity friendly practices.
  • Output 2.2: Community-based participatory methods (building on traditional knowledge) developed and implemented for ex situ conservation especially of recalcitrant materials (seed that cannot be stored ex situ).
  • Output 2.3: Tajik ABD germplasm made available to national, regional and global crop improvement programmes.
  • Output 2.4: In-situ gene banks established in 40 home gardens/farms in 4 pilot sites, including collection, geo-referencing, identification, characterization, and/or germplasm-banking of prioritized ABD (largely fruit and nuts).
  • Output 2.5: Climate change modeling and crop modeling in order to deliberately select appropriate homologue sites that represent present and future conditions. Project activities will be implemented together with farmers, farm households, and local communities.
  • Output 2.6: Sustainable management strategies for the 4 project areas and areas certified as sources of climate resilient wild crop relatives.
  • Output 2.7: A network of databases established on materials maintained in situ and ex situ.
  • Output 2.8: Awareness campaigns (partnership with JRCs and GEF SGP) address conservation of ABD and build adaptive capacity to climate change.

Component 3: Enabling environment for market development for agro-biodiversity products developed.

  • Output 3.1: Capacity building programme to ensure institutions charged with responsibility for supporting development of agro-biodiversity based agro-enterprises are effective.
  • Output 3.2: Identification, differentiation and marketing programs for certified products from 4 pilot areas and non-certified ABD climate resilient products grown, developed and implemented through a supply chain approach.
  • Output 3.3: International marketing campaign (trade fairs, online) to establish Tajikistan as an international source of ABD-friendly climate resilient products for consumers concerned about the point of origin, sustainability and genetic heritage (i.e. the importance of crop wild relatives in the face of climate change) of food.
  • Output 3.4: Crop certification established for products increasing farmer’s ability to sell products and services at a premium, verified and monitored by Protocol to verify and monitor compliance of certification.
  • Output 3.5: Seed grants (through partnership with GEF Small Grants Programme) support development of agro-biodiversity based agro-enterprises at each site.
  • Output 3.6: Increased funding available for start-up initiatives and SMEs, provided by existing MFIs (supported by JRCs/UNDP Communities Programme) to ABD agro-enterprises.
  • Output 3.7: Enhanced business advisory centers and JRCs support efforts to bring climate resilient ABD-friendly products to markets.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Project Inception Phase
  1. A Project Inception Workshop will be conducted with the full project team, government counterparts, co-financing partners, the UNDP-CO, and representatives from the UNDP-GEF Regional Coordinating Unit and UNDP-GEF (HQ). A fundamental objective of the Inception Workshop will be to help the project team to understand and take ownership of the project’s goal and objective, and to prepare the project's first annual work plan based on the logframe matrix. Work will include reviewing the logframe (indicators, means of verification, assumptions and expected outcomes), providing additional detail as needed, and then finalizing the Annual Work Plan (AWP) with measurable performance indicators. The Inception Workshop (IW) will also: (i) introduce project staff to the UNDP-GEF team (the CO and responsible Regional Coordinating Unit staff) that will support project implementation; (ii) detail the responsibilities of UNDP-CO and RCU staff vis-à-vis the project team; (iii) detail the UNDP-GEF reporting and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) requirements, with particular emphasis on the Annual Project Implementation Reviews (PIRs), the Annual Review Report (ARR), and mid-term and final evaluations. The IW will also inform the project team regarding UNDP project related budgetary planning, budget reviews, and mandatory budget re-phasing. An overall objective of the IW is that all parties understand their roles, functions, and responsibilities within the project's decision-making structures; and that reporting and communication lines and conflict resolution mechanisms are clear to all. Terms of Reference for project staff and decision-making structures will be again discussed to clarify each party’s responsibilities during project implementation.
Monitoring responsibilities and events
  1. The project management, in consultation with project implementation partners and stakeholder representatives will develop a detailed schedule of project review meetings to be included in the Project Inception Report. The schedule will include: (i) tentative time frames for Project Board Meetings and (ii) project related Monitoring and Evaluation activities. The Project Manager will be responsible for day-to-day project monitoring based on the project's Annual Work Plan and its indicators. The Project Manager will inform the UNDP-CO of delays or difficulties so that appropriate support or corrective measures can be adopted in a timely fashion. At the Inception Workshop, the Project Manager, the project team, UNDP-CO and the UNDP-GEF Regional Coordinating Unit will work together to fine-tune project progress and performance/impact indicators, specific targets for the first year of implementation, and means of verification. Targets and indicators for subsequent years will be defined annually by the project team as part of the internal evaluation and planning processes. The project will use the relevant Tracking Tool for additional monitoring of progress. Periodic monitoring of implementation progress will be undertaken by the UNDP-CO through quarterly meetings with the Implementing Partner, or more frequently as deemed necessary, allowing partners to troubleshoot project problems in a timely fashion.
Project Inception Phase
  1. The project team, relevant government counterparts, co-financing partners, the UNDP-CO, representatives from the UNDP-GEF Regional Coordinating Unit, and the UNDP-GEF (HQs) will conduct a Project Inception Workshop (IW). Fundamental objectives of the IW will be to help the project team understand and take ownership of project goals and objectives, finalize the first annual work plan based on the logframe matrix, review the logframe (indicators, means of verification, assumptions, performance indicators, and expected outcomes), and finalize the Annual Work Plan (AWP). The IW will also: (i) introduce project staff to the UNDP-GEF team (the CO and responsible Regional Coordinating Unit staff) that will support project implementation; (ii) detail the responsibilities of UNDP-CO and RCU staff vis à vis the project team; (iii) provide a detailed overview of UNDP-GEF reporting and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) requirements, with particular emphasis on the Annual Project Implementation Reviews (PIRs), the Annual Review Report (ARR), and mid-term and final evaluations. The IW will also inform the project team regarding UNDP project related budgetary planning, budget reviews, mandatory budget re-phasing, and project decision-making structures, reporting and communication lines, and conflict resolution mechanisms. Partners will be able to gain an understanding of their project roles, functions, and responsibilities. Terms of Reference for project staff and decision-making structures will be discussed to clarify each party’s responsibilities in project implementation.
Monitoring responsibilities and events
  1. Project management, project partners and stakeholder representatives will collaborate on the development of a detailed schedule of project review meetings to be incorporated in the Project Inception Report. The schedule will include: (i) tentative time frames for Project Board Meetings and (ii) project related Monitoring and Evaluation activities. The Project Manager will be responsible for day-to-day monitoring of implementation progress based on the Annual Work Plan and indicators. The Project Manager will inform the UNDP-CO of any delays or difficulties so that appropriate and timely corrective measures can be implemented. At the IW, the Project Manager, project team, UNDP-CO, and UNDP-GEF Regional Coordinating Unit will fine-tune the project’s progress and performance/impact indicators and will develop specific targets and their means of verification for the first year’s progress indicators. Every year the project team will define targets and indicators as part of the internal evaluation and planning processes.
  2. The Project Board Meetings (PBM) will be responsible for twice a year project monitoring. The PBM will be the highest policy-level meeting of the partners involved in project implementation. The first such meeting will be held within the first six months of the start of full implementation.
  3. The Project Manager in consultation with UNDP-CO and UNDP-GEF RCU will prepare a UNDP/GEF PIR/APR for submission to PBM members and the Project Board for review and comments and for discussion at the PB meeting. The Project Manager will highlight policy issues and recommendations and will inform participants of agreements reached by stakeholders during the PIR/ARR preparation on how to resolve operational issues. Separate reviews of each project component will be conducted as necessary. Benchmarks will be developed at the Inception Workshop, based on delivery rates and on qualitative assessments of achievements of outputs. A terminal PBM will be held in the last month of project operations. The Project Manager will prepare a Terminal Report for submission to UNDP-CO and UNDP-GEF RCU at least two months in advance of the terminal PBM to allow for review and to serve as the basis for discussions in the PBM.The terminal meeting will consider project implementation, achievement of project objectives, contribution to broader environmental objectives, actions needed to sustain project results, and ways that lessons learnt can feed into other projects being developed or implemented. 
  1. UNDP Country Office, UNDP-GEF RCU, and any other members of the Project Board will annually assess (with detailed scheduling agreed upon at the project Inception Report/Annual Work Plan) progress at the project sites. No less than one month after the visit, the CO and UNDP-GEF RCU will prepare a Field Visit Report/BTOR to be circulated to the project team, all Project Board members, and UNDP-GEF.

Contacts

UNDP
Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov
Country Office Focal Point
UNDP
Neimatullo Safarov
Project Manager
UNDP
Johan Robinson
Regional Technical Advisor