Published: 22 January 2020
Last edited: 22 January 2020
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Kitchen gardens are very important for improving the nutrition of Tajik families in rural areas as they contribute to food and nutrition security by providing a diversity of vegetables, herbs, and berries.

Thus, they are a central nutrition source for subsistence farmers.

Vegetable, herbs, and spices, berries and fruits are cultivated in small-scale kitchen gardens, often directly adjacent to houses. The diversified kitchen garden approach aims to improve the management system of kitchen gardens by diversifying cultivated crops, enhancing irrigation systems and improving techniques for better soil fertility management.


North and Central Asia
Scale of implementation
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Food security
Gender mainstreaming
Genetic diversity
Loss of Biodiversity
Lack of food security


Tajikistan | Zindakon, Madm, Pokhut, Jafr, Mazor


Promoting diversified kitchen gardens in the context of biodiversity and ecosystem services enhancement poses some challenges. Management of diversified kitchen gardens demand a sound knowledge of the requirements of different crops and makes having a cropping plan and rotation system essential, even though the size of a kitchen garden is normally relatively small. Intensifying production in a kitchen garden also requires pest and disease management and entails fertilization of crops, fruits, and vegetables through composting and green manure use.

Other challenges are represented by the lack of seed availability, the seeds of vegetables are not commonly reproduced, and the crops are not planted according to the seasonal calendar.    


The beneficiaries of the approach are farmers interested in diversifying their gardens with various tree and bush species as well as in growing associated crops and vegetables.

How do the building blocks interact?

The application of simple techniques such as composting and crop rotation improves the soil structure and reduces pests and diseases. Consequently, the quantity and quality of the harvest of vegetables and fruits are improved, from which seeds of better quality can be kept. These can be stored in community-based seed banks,  thus ensuring that the traditional, local varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs, which are usually better adapted to local climate conditions, are conserved.


Kitchen gardens play a strong function on a social level allowing women to diversify the family diet and take on an important role both inside the family and in the neighbourhood. Diversified kitchen gardens further contribute to biodiversity conservation. Moreover, harvest and post-harvest management skills, including drying and storage, are specific skills passed through generations.

A positive economic advantage is generated by the products from kitchen gardens that can be sold fresh or processed, generating additional income.

Simple techniques such as crop rotation or composting can have beneficial impacts on the soil structure and nutrient cycles within the soil. Furthermore, diversified kitchen gardens attract pollinators and provide suitable habitats for bees and other pollinators. 



A huge courtyard garden surrounds the house, where Hanona Latifova, 56 years old, lives in Jafr village in Rasht province, Northern Tajikistan. The mountain tops of the valley are already covered by the first snow of this year. Over the last weeks, the garden slowly emptied: the fruits from the trees have been picked, the vegetables have been harvested and the soil is being prepared for wintertime.

In a dry and aerated storage room especially build for that purpose Hanona keeps her impressive collection of seeds. She is a serene, confident woman, who explains about her experience in reproducing seeds: “I have been doing it since very long. Since the end of the Civil War, for about twenty years, I have been doing it more intensively. In my storage room, I have all kind of seeds.”

In spring this year, she decided to take part in the project “Enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services in agrarian landscapes”, supported by BMU and Welthungerhilfe and implemented by its local partner organization. “For the first time, I heard about this project in March 2018. I wanted to learn something new, more about agriculture and what people do in agriculture. "The first results of the project are already tangible, as Hanona explains. “This project has a great impact on farmers. They learned about fertilizers and watering. They learned not to use pesticides, but instead to use a home-made mixture made from boiled walnut leaves and garlic and to spray it on the plants. And they learned about how to plant in the most beneficial order the different crops and vegetables. This time, we did not leave any weed on the fields until autumn and we achieved a very good harvest.”

Hanona continues the tradition of collecting seeds in her family by following the example of her mother and grandmother who did the same before her.

There have always been people who came and took seeds from Hanona, already before the project. But in the Farmer Field School organized by the project, she decided together with the farmers to exchange seeds to preserve local varieties which are more resistant and therefore achieve better harvests.

Contributed by

Deutsche Welthungerhilfe

Other contributors

Public Organization "IPD"
Public Organization "Rushnoi"