Harvesting Sweet Success

A husband and wife in Tajikistan’s Khatlon province dry apricots on their family farm
Photo by: Sandra Coburn / The Cloudburst Group

How Land Rights are Helping Tajikistan’s Apricot Farmers Reap the Fruits of their Labor

Originally appeared on Medium.

In the sweltering mid-June heat, a group of farmers in Tajikistan’s Khatlon province gathered to attend a training on land rights and farming techniques for one of the region’s most promising cash crops: apricots.

Farmers attend a training on women’s land rights and learn how to dry apricots for market on a local farm in Tajikistan’s Khatlon province.
Farmers attend a training on women’s land rights and learn how to dry apricots for market on a local farm in Tajikistan’s Khatlon province. Photo by: Sandra Coburn / The Cloudburst Group

Tajikistan was once known for its wide variety of sweet apricots and served as a primary producer of the fruit in the region. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the outbreak of civil war in the 1990s devastated Tajikistan’s regional export fruit market. Farmers chopped down the trees for firewood and replaced the orchards with cotton fields. At the time, cotton was the nation’s most viable commercial crop due to a Soviet-era legacy that mandated cotton production on collective farms. After 1999, production began to recover, and since then, the Government of Tajikistan has made efforts to diversify agricultural production, including allocating more land for orchards.

Read the full photo essay on Medium.