Hoji Mirzo Ismailov recently welcomed the regional governor and 70 members of the farming community to his greenhouses in northern Tajikistan to showcase his remarkable success in producing high-value greenhouse tomatoes. Ismailov is a partner of USAID’s Productive Agriculture Project, which seeks to increase farmers’ incomes by promoting best farming practices.
Ismailov is also a leader in his community, serving as head of the district’s religious council and teaching in a local school.
An innovative entrepreneur, he strives to advance his community’s development. Leveraging his fluent Arabic, Ismailov started a successful business trading with Middle Eastern countries. After seeing the high price that greenhouse tomatoes fetched on the market, Ismailov decided to expand his business into agriculture. In September 2010, he secured a loan for $60,000 to begin construction of greenhouses and contacted the USAID project to ask for technical assistance.
Since that time, USAID has assisted Ismailov in implementing best practices that result in high-quality tomatoes that can command a premium price. USAID provided advice on the seed selection process, the use of combined fertilizers, application of pesticides, and disease prevention to ensure the highest quality and yield possible. Ismailov collaborated with USAID to demonstrate the impact of best growing practices by comparing them with the more traditional farming methods used on small parts of his land. In a country where many farmers practice traditional growing techniques that result in low yields and low prices, demonstrating the results of best growing practices is a critical step for stimulating investment in the agricultural sector.
Ismailov expects to harvest 20 tons of premium tomatoes that can sell for 50 percent more than tomatoes grown using traditional methods. “It has been a great opportunity to work with USAID because we share similar goals to develop the agriculture sector in Tajikistan,” he said.
Ismailov plans to continue his partnership with USAID; he will use four hectares of his own land to establish an agriculture education center that will catalyze the adoption of best practices and significantly increase income for Tajik farmers in the future.