Integrated rain-fed farming of cereals for adaptation to climate change

Published: 28 May 2019
Last edited: 09 July 2019
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Rain-fed farming under the semi-arid climate is risky as rainfall during critical periods of the growth season is not always sufficient to secure the expected yield. Climate change results in increasing aridity in form of higher temperatures and resulting evapo-transpiration and reduced precipitation. Droughts are becoming more frequent and rainfall is less regular, sometimes in form of heavy rainshowers with limited amounts of water being infitrated into the soil and surface runoff causing erosion.


The application of zero tillage technology (also called direct seeding, direct sowing or direct drilling) where the seed of cultivated crops is placed without mechanical treatment of the topsoil is used for adaptation to these risks.  Within one operation the residues from previous crops and weeds are superficially removed, seeds are planted, fertilizer applied and covered by soil. Herbizides are used for weed control. A special drilling machine applies the suitable seed and fertilzer amount.


North and Central Asia
Scale of implementation
Disaster risk reduction
Erosion prevention
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Direct engagement with associations


Sughd Province, Tajikistan | J. Rasulov district, Istaravshan district, Devashtich district


Available crop varieties are not adapted to rain-fed cultivation under semi-arid conditions. This is addressed by providing crop varieties, adapted to the local site conditions and produce reliable high yields of best quality.

Farmers are not applying the suitable fertilizer and agrochemicals for optimum yield. The challenge was addressed by providing tailored packages of seeds and agrochemicals with instructions on their use.

The investment costs of machinery for direct sowing has been a challenge for the application of the solution. The GIZ financially supported the cooperative "Agra va iqlim" (verbally "Agriculture and climate") in purchasing the machinery, which is lent to the farmers.

Farmers are not able to afford the necessary inputs at the time of cultivation.  This is addressed by providing agricultural inputs to farmers on a part loan basis: farmers pay 50% of the costs of the package when purchasing, the remaining 50% are paid after harvest, with a subsidized low interest rate.


The direct beneficiaries are the farmers cultivating rain-fed cereal crops. Indirect beneficiaries are the local people in general, which benefit from more stable and increased farm incomes, lower prices of grain and better food security. 

How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks are integrated at each farm in a specific way. The agricultural extenstion service of the cooperative "Agra va Iqlim" is instrumental for bringing the building blocks together and providing each farmer with the solution, which is suitable for his side conditions and the impact of ongoing and predicted climate change.


Environmental impacts:

- reduced soil compaction, lump formation, destruction of soil particles and
dust formation;

- reduced water and wind erosion;
- preservation of organic matter and of the habitat of soil organisms;

- avoiding of breaking up and turning the upper soil horizon hampers the evaporation from the soil surface and increases the soil moisture.


Social impacts:

- reduced risk of gully erosion and formation of mudflows as well as cleaner surface water;

- reduction of wind erosion and resulting dust storms provides better air quality;


Economic impacts:

- saving od expenses for ploughing, leveling, chiseling significantly
reduces the expenses of farmers for cultivation;

- improved soil moisture reduces drought-related risks of rain-fed winter wheat farming;

- Provision of packages of seeds of varieties suitable for rain-fed farming under semi-arid conditions combined with the appropriate fertilizers and pesticides provides optimum yields of grain and straw, which is in high demand by livestock producers.



The Non-commercial cooperative "Agra va Iqlim" supports farmers in the rain-fed wheat areas of Sughd region. Lower and less predictable rainfall and increasing frequency of droughts make their operations more and more risky and in some years they can barely recover their costs of cultivation. But the head of cooperative "Agra va Iqlim", Fazlidin Quziboev, also noticed that many farmers do not apply the right fertilizer amounts and cultivated crop varieties are not suitable for the conditions of rain-fed farming in such a semi-arid climate.


The right combination of agricultural extension, cultivation technology, crop varieties, packages of seeds and agrochemicals and an enabling financing mechanism was needed. With the technical and financial support of GIZ this solution was developed and Fazlidin Quziboev of "Agra va Iqlim" convinced two farmers to establish demonstration plots of 2.5 ha each in 2017. 


Seeing the results of the demonstration plots during the season 2017/2018 already 50 farmers applied the solution on 50 ha of rain-fed land for winter wheat. The drought in this year caused total losses to all farms where wheat was cultivated in the traditional way, while the participating farmers at least recovered their costs. In 2018/2019 already 150 ha are cultivated in the new way.


The director of the cooperative  "Agra va Iqlim" now wants to expand the organization's capacity and the opportunities for the farmers by purchasing an additional drilling machine.   

Contributed by

Stefan Michel

Other contributors

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH