Anorboy: Credit Gone Wrong

 

Anorboy Piremqul presents a cautionary tale of how credit can go wrong if not administered well. As head of a collective farm a decade ago, he signed a group loan for 70 farm members to invest in an irrigation system. A corrupt government official confiscated the property and it was not returned. Anorboy fought in court but was forced to repay the group loan because it was all in his name. After three years and selling off assets like his house and some land, he paid off the sum and was debt free. Much of his income is from agriculture, but he and his family also depend on the migrant remittances that his son sends from Russia.

That was the story of Anorboy until this year when he accessed an IMON loan at the beginning of the season to invest in his onion planting. Everyone else had the same idea and a bumper crop has resulted for many farmers. Usually Anorboy would sell to traders who come to his farm and transport onions to Dushanbe, the capital city. This year, however, due to the market flooding, there are no buyers. At the time of the interview, he was planning to pay for transportation of his crop to Dushanbe and sell at a loss there. Market instability has increased his vulnerability, especially because he only invested in one crop where prices have since plummeted. While he hopes to repay his IMON loan this year, he's not sure where it will come from. While they await more remittances from his son, they eat less meat and hope for a decent onion price to be found in Dushanbe.

Anorboy has been burned twice by credit gone wrong. His dream is to pay off this loan and to avoid credit in the future. His dream is to invest in livestock once he gets on his feet again. He wants to see his son marry, pay for the wedding, and live credit debt free. He is hopeful because he believes the worst is behind him.

Loans and Livelihoods (Tajikistan)

Samehon 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 Tajikistan 7 005costs 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.