Organic Value Chain Development

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation undertook a mission in 2008 to monitor the cotton sector reform process and studying the feasibility for an organic-fair trade value chain project in Tajikistan. The mission met with an initial interest of farmers, development organizations, government officials and textile processors towards organic cotton. HELVETAS and the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO) subsequently decided to start the Organic Value Chain Development (OVCD) Project with the aim to facilitate the development of certified organic & fair-trade value chains centred on cotton.


The Project addresses low profitability and sustainability of farming in Tajikistan that have lead to low incomes, debts, vulnerability, food insecurity and degradation of soil fertility. It seeks to open up an alternative way of farming that helps stabilize yields, reduce production costs (for inputs and loans), and achieve higher prices. Diversification of farming systems (rotation crops, animal husbandry) is an inherent element of organic farming, and helps reduce risks and improve food security. Organized farmers can receive technical advice and services and have more bargaining power in marketing their produce. By engaging in organic and/or fair trade, value chains farmers can get access to markets that honor the specific production system with a higher price.


1. Organic production systems are optimized: suitable cropping patterns, production methods, inputs, equipment and financial services are available and applied.
2. Secured sales for farmers: local enterprises and/or cooperatives buy products from certified farms based on back-to-back long-term trade relations with clients in domestic and export markets. 
3. Conducive environment: government policies and development programs support organic value chain development and minimize obstacles. 


The Project consolidates and up-scales established value chains in cotton and invests in new value chains and markets for rotational crops like vegetables, fruit and pulses. Access to external markets for organic produce is facilitated by the Project through longstanding business contacts with companies mainly in Switzerland and Russia. Extension services to producers are provided through Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs). The Project facilitates the establishment of Machinery Services Groups (TAGs) and seed funds for GMO free high quality seeds. Institutional support is given to local service providers and producer associations to sustain main extension functions in future (input supply, training and marketing services). IMO in collaboration with SAS Organic implement certification procedures for organic produce with the aim to establish a certification body in Tajikistan. Efforts to initiate a policy dialogue on potentials and risks of organic farming in Tajikistan and on the new Law on Organic Farming are undertaken at provincial and national level.

Achievements 2014

• 1,180 farmers with a total of 3,668 ha of field land (out of which 1,649 ha are cotton fields) obtained an international certifictae for organic farming.

• The number of women farmers has increased by 489 people, i.e. 37 % of supported farmers are women. 

• 55 tons of raw long staple cotton received in Kanibadam. 

• The partner organization 'Barakat Isfara' exported 45 tons of dried apricots to Germany.

• The partner organization 'Oro Isfara' exported 100 tons of organic peanuts to Russia.

• A comparison between conventional and organic farming shows that production costs of organic cotton are around 10% lower, meanwhile the sales price is 20% higher through the organic premium.


The results of the first project phase indicate that engagement in organic value chains can be a true alternative for farmers, as it addresses several issues at a time. It managed to support farmers to successfully convert to organic farming and to participate in a new value chain model. Phase II of the project will focus on consolidating, up-scaling and replicating the results achieved in the first phase. For this it collaborates with enterprises that take up organic production, processing and trade as a business model.


The second project phase from 2013-2015 will continue to promotes organic farming and the trade of organic cotton and other organic products in international and domestic markets. For the coming two years, up to the end of 2015, the project aims to achieve an increased profitability of farming (+30%). Farmers will receive the required technical and financial services, so the goal of an export in the amount of 2 Million Euro with the minimum of 5 purchasing companies can be achieved.