Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

These days, farmers - owners of household plots and hotbeds of the Kanlykul district in Karakalpakstan – receive informational support through a group in Telegram without leaving their home from the specialists of the Extension Center, which was established with our technical support.

In 2018, jointly with Uzhydromet and financial assistance from the Adaptation Fund of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, we launched three centers for the provision of information and consulting services to farmers and dekhkans of the northern region of the country. Master classes and trainings on the use of various technologies of agro and water conservation, increasing land productivity, as well as the introduction of innovative agricultural production practices were constantly held here. This work also continued in the days of self-isolation due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.

-       We did not expect that even in the days of quarantine our services would be in such high demand. So, at the request of farmers of the Kanlykul district, we created a group in Telegram. Among the most active subscribers are 87 people – farm managers and householders, volunteers and those who are interested in agricultural sector news. We are constantly consulting on issues they are keen to know, says Sabit Sadykov, head of the information and consultation center in the Kanlykul district of Karakalpakstan.

In addition to support materials and office equipment, the centers were provided with IT and tools for determining the concentration of chemical elements in the soil, identifying the optimal composition and mode of fertilizer application.

-       For a short period, taking various questions from our audience, we managed to conduct a series of  online master classes, demonstrating work processes in various accessible formats. Thus, 623 photos, 155 video clips have already been posted, 55 information documents and dozens of audio messages have been prepared. Reciprocally, we also learn a lot from the group members. Some of them, who recently arranged their greenhouses and personal plots, have acquired new skills and knowledge through the exchange we organised. We have a clear work plan, but often we have to deviate from the schedule, because there are increasing number of questions and tasks, and it takes a lot of time to find a competent, complete solution, tells Sabit Sadykov.

Among the topics discussed in the group, the most popular are:

- agriculture secrets for saline soils;

- technology of work in a hotbed and greenhouse;

- advantages of drip irrigation technology;

- climate change adaptation and water saving methods;

- accounting in the household, financial and tax reporting, benefits provided in the agricultural sector;

- legal advice on the conclusion of contracts for the production of agricultural products and many others.

The center's staff consists of the following specialists: agronomist, engineer, economist, accountant and lawyer. Sometimes, in order to provide the answers, one has to turn an expert in the field of soil science and our experts don't mind it because they learnt thru practise various approaches of working with saline soil and successfully applied them in difficult climatic conditions of the northern region. So exchange of best practices also matters.

The center is equipped with mobile sensors, which allow the measurement of the temperature and moist level of the soil up to 1 m deep. In addition, recently, we started using innovative technology that minimizes the influence of soil salinity to the measurement data. In future, it is expected to expand the range of services provided, based on growing demand and the desire of the local population to study new technologies and approaches of the productive work in the agricultural sector.

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