Samehon: Loans and Livelihoods (Tajikistan)

Tajikistan 7 005Samehon Naviev lives in Isfara, Tajikistan with his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and daughter. In addition to farming, he is the accountant for the collective farm in his area and his wife works as a seamstress. Despite these activities, they depend on agriculture for almost three-quarters of their income. Though the land reform process has not yet happened in his area, he has access to land for farming. He shares six hectares between 6 people. They work together to plant and harvest wheat and apricots. If they wanted to turn away from cultivating wheat the group would have to agree to present a letter to the committee and they would decide to accept the petition or not. The state used to help with farming inputs, but does not anymore. There are few people left to work the land because they've all gone to seek employment elsewhere, mainly in Russia. Rising costs of input and labour are making it increasingly difficult for his group to profit from the land.

Samehon went to Russia in 2008 for a year to work, raising capital to help with rising input costs like fertilizer. He accesses agricultural loans from IMON, a microfinance partner of MEDA, on an annual basis to have the cash to buy inputs as well. "Our lives have improved for the better," he said. Samehon considers his income stable, with some decreases when there is a wedding, and increases when he is in Russia. They sell the apricots at a good price and use the wheat for household consumption, giving a large portion of it back to the collective as in-kind rent payment. The agriculture consultant at IMON recommends that they use greenhouses in the future to prolong the growing season and cropping potential.

Having access to the IMON loan allows Samehon the flexibility to buy inputs when they are cheaper, rather than at the peak season when everyone needs them. Having this flexibility also means he can stay in Tajikistan to earn a living with his family rather than sending migrant remittances from Russia. Samehon shared that together he and his wife make decisions around income and spending to ensure the family is looked after. Since having more disposable income, they are able to eat better quality food because they have inputs for their garden, and enjoy more resilient health. Samehon's dream is to travel to Mecca and complete the Hajj pilgrimage, a journey open to Muslims who have the financial independence to do so.

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