Revival and dissemination of Kyrgyz traditional pastoral knowledge and practices

Through the Pastoralist-to-Pastoralist network

Since ancient times, the life of Kyrgyz people was inextricably linked with pasturelands and cattle breeding. Natural pastures and the forests, rivers, animals and plants located on them constituted a special ecosystem that served for our ancestors as a habitat, a basis for subsistence, a factor in shaping their worldview and way of life, as well as an inexhaustible source of artistic inspiration. They deeply revered the nature around them and knew how to live in harmony with it.

They passed on their knowledge of respect for nature and rational use of pastures, traditional skills of grazing and cattle breeding from generation to generation. Unfortunately, much of this traditional knowledge has been lost and forgotten. Several generations have grown up in the village without inheriting this knowledge and skills, which has negatively affected the state of pastures and livestock breeding in our country.

Changes in climate, natural landscapes, fauna and flora have led scientists around the world to turn to traditional indigenous knowledge in search of possible answers to these challenges. Our task was to find these people, preserve their valuable knowledge and skills, and promote their dissemination and application in the pastoral communities of Kyrgyzstan.

Main objectives of the project

- To collect traditional pastoral knowledge on environmentally sustainable, economically feasible and climate resilient pasture use and livestock management skills and ways of life through identification of the best pastoralists;

- Disseminating knowledge and experience through the Summer Pastoral Knowledge Fair;

- Facilitate the creation of an informal network of Kyrgyz pastoralists to share experiences and popularize pastoral knowledge and skills.

Project objectives

- Identification of keepers of Kyrgyz traditional pastoral knowledge in the country;

- Collection, analysis, processing of collected traditional pastoral knowledge;

- Creation of an informal network of Kyrgyz pastoralists;

- Popularization and dissemination of traditional pastoral knowledge and skills.

Place of project realization

The project research was conducted in all regions of Kyrgyzstan, as well as in places of compact residence of ethnic Kyrgyz in Turkey and China.

The following people participated in the project

- livestock breeders, pasture users, traditional knowledge users, pasture enthusiasts;

- keepers of traditional knowledge, experts in grazing and keeping livestock, livestock breeders' way of life;

- scientists, specialists in the field of agriculture;

- students of the country's universities and agricultural colleges;

- regional subdivisions of ARIS, SCS and other programs and projects, NGOs working with rural areas;

- partner organizations and groups in foreign countries with related pastoral culture.

Main results of the project

- A competition was held among students of universities and agricultural colleges who submitted application forms and essays on pastoralists to participate in the competition.

- RDF expresrs selected and carefully evaluated the application forms on pastoralists submitted by the contestants, describing the knowledge and experience of the best pastoralists.

- Based on the results, the top pastoralists were identified nationally and in-depth research was conducted with them, and they were also prepared to participate in the Summer Pastoralist Fair.

- In the summer of 2010 summer fairs were held in the South and North of the country, where the identified methods and skills of pastoralists were presented to the participants of the fairs and an active discussion with the participants was organized.

- Within the framework of the school "Pastoralist to Pastoralist" a series of training seminars and trainings were organized in the summer of 2010.

- As a result of the above activities, the formation of an informal network of pastoralists "Kyrgyz El Kazyna" was initiated.

- The project also organized practical exchange visits of pastoralists to apply their traditional knowledge and experience.

- All collected materials and data were organized, analyzed and published in a series of booklets on Kyrgyz traditional pastoral knowledge and practices "In Aid to the Livestock Breeder" (See details in the section "Publications").

Key facts

Years of implementation: 2008-2011

Place of implementation: Chui, Talas, Naryn, Issyk-Kul, Batken, Osh and Jalal-Abad oblasts.

Donor: Christensen Foundation, USA

Partner: "Kok-Oirok" Jamaat

Traditional Knowledge