The Kyrgyz Republic is a mountainous, landlocked, lower-middle income country in Central Asia located between Kazakhstan to the north, China to the east, Tajikistan to the south and Uzbekistan to the west. It benefits from rich natural resources, including minerals, forests, arable land, and pastures, and shows a significant potential for the expansion of its Agriculture sector.
With a population of 6.45 million people in 2019, Kyrgyzstan has experienced significant political and social instability since independence in 1991. Weak governance and entrenched corruption helped trigger political and social upheavals in 2005 and 2010.
Post-independence economic reforms, cut poverty rapidly, from 52 per cent of the population in 2000 to 20.1 per cent in 2019, but it remains more prevalent and most severe in rural and mountainous regions.
Nearly two-thirds of the population (62 per cent) live in rural areas, many in the valleys and foothills of the mountains. They depend heavily on crop and livestock production, although remittances and welfare are also important income supplements.
Poverty is widespread in Kyrgyzstan. Over 60 per cent of the rural population is poor or vulnerable to poverty. The major source of employment is agriculture, with smallholder farmers the major producers. Livestock plays a crucial role in their food security and as a safety net. However, livestock communities’ livelihoods are fragile, with very few assets and limited economic opportunities in remote mountainous pasture areas.
Nearly half of the country is pasture land – some 9 million hectares – and herding plays a key role in its economy, society and culture.
In 2018, 22 per cent of rural households were food insecure, of which, – 5.1 per cent severely food insecure.
The geography and topography of Kyrgyzstan make it particularly vulnerable to climate change. Drought, landslides and mudslides, floods and river erosion are all common and are becoming more frequent and intense. Reduced pasture productivity, heat stress and declining access to water could reduce livestock production and increase the spread of disease.
In Kyrgyzstan, IFAD funding helps reduce poverty and enhance economic growth in pastoral communities by helping poor rural people earn more and improve their living standards.
Activities target vulnerable households, especially women headed households and livestock producer households generally. Support is provided to increase production while moving further up the value chain into processing, management, marketing, and ownership.
IFAD’s current focus on the livestock value chain not only stems from the excellent achievements of previous and ongoing IFAD investments in the country, but also from the high potential of the sector. Catalysing agricultural growth in livestock by moving away from input-driven exports of unprocessed commodities towards agricultural innovation, inclusive and comprehensive value chain development, food quality and safety, value addition sustainable production, and resilience to climate change, natural disasters and other external shocks, is considered as a real opportunity to achieve rural transformation.
Livestock sector activities focus on four pillars of productivity enhancement:
- a rational, efficient and sustainable use of the country’s pasture resources through support to community-based management;
- improved animal health, nutrition and husbandry through support to national animal disease control strategies and arrangements;
- market access and market integration of primary producers through strengthened linkages amongst livestock and crop value chain actors, capacity-building in production, processing and marketing; and
- fostering access to modern technologies and finance.
IFAD Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (COSOP 2018-2022) aims to support inclusive rural transformation that enables smallholders to reduce poverty and strengthen livelihood resilience. This is addressed through two strategic objectives:
- Increase smallholders’ equitable and sustainable returns by improving services and developing livestock product value chains that enable rural producers, principally smallholders, to capitalize on market opportunities;
- Enhance smallholders’ resilience to climate change by implementing innovative approaches that strengthen resilience and ensure sustainable incomes from diversified livelihoods systems.
While contributing to the UN Coordination Team’s efforts to support the Kyrgyz Government and its National Development Strategy 2018-2040, IFAD’s investments are implemented in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and more specifically, contribute to the achievement of: (SDG 1) no poverty, (SDG 2) zero hunger, (SDG 5) gender equality and (SDG 13) climate action.
Amongst its operations in the country, an important collaboration has been developed with UN Women, FAO and WFP in the implementation of the Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (JP RWEE). By capitalizing on each agency’s mandate, comparative advantage and institutional strength, this initiative aims at generating more lasting and wider scale improvements in the livelihoods and rights of rural women, including young women. The JP RWEE focuses on four key outcomes including: i) Improved food and nutrition security; ii) Increased incomes to sustain livelihoods; iii) Enhanced leadership and participation in decision-making; and iv) Gender-responsive policy environment.
Agriculture contributes 12.1 per cent of GDP and accounts for 21.2 per cent of total employment countrywide.
Over a third of the population is between 15 and 25 years old and the number of youth entering the labour market is increasing.