Medicinal herbs, traditions and green farming

Today we will tell you about a few women farmers and share their views. They grow medicinal plants, want to produce curruta with healthy herbs or make dried fruits and baked goods. What they all have in common is that they are members of the Rural Development Fund project and have participated in trainings that have recently taken place all over the country. The Rural Development Fund supported these farmers with grants, which they used to purchase equipment that facilitates work processes and compliance with sanitary and technological requirements. After all, the process of phytosilk production - from land work to harvesting, washing, drying and storage - is labor-intensive. It is very important to follow the technology that allows you to preserve the products useful properties: for example, wash in warm, but not hot water, and dry in closed, dark, but well-ventilated rooms.

About trainings
A series of trainings on "Raising interest in green agriculture and revival of traditional ecological knowledge" was conducted for farmers from Batken, Jalal-Abad, Issyk-Kul, Naryn, Osh, Talas and Chui oblasts of Kyrgyzstan.
The participants of these events were farmers, including respected aksakals, women, youth; as well as representatives of local self-government bodies, local keneshes, pasture committees, structures managing forestry. In total, about 180 people gained new knowledge and skills in an interactive format, with group work. The events took place in Batken, Bishkek, Osh, Talas and Ala-Buka district center from June 9 to 23, and then in Karakol and Kochkor district center from July 5 to 8, 2022.
The trainings were conducted under the Go Green project with the support of the European Union to promote interest in green agriculture among the farming community, as well as to raise awareness among farmers on the preservation and application of traditional knowledge.
The Go Green project aims to contribute to climate change mitigation through the development of an agricultural value chain model that respects biodiversity, adapts production to environmental challenges, increases productivity and promotes social and local agribusiness. The project concept emphasizes women, youth, their experiences, lessons learned.
Sonungul Zhyltyrova
In Maman village, Ak-Suu district, Issyk-Kul oblast, valerian was planted in Soviet times. However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, collective and state farms, the cultivation of this medicinal crop fell into disrepair. Now it is being revived thanks to the locals themselves. According to Sonungul Zhyltyrova, head of the cooperative "Ysyk-Kѳl Organic", growing this herb is hard work, but in general it is more profitable than potato production, the purchase price of which is unpredictable.
- Potato harvest from one hectare brings income in the range of 600 thousand soms. This is the maximum with a purchase price of 30 soms, which is rare. Expenses amount to 200 thousand soms, total net profit is 400 thousand soms. And valerian can bring 1.5 million soms, of which 500 thousand are expenses. That makes a million in income," explains Sonungul Zhyltyrova.
Sonungul-Ezhe herself has been growing the fragrant crop since 2011. She started with a small plot of 5 hectares, and now she has grown 1 hectare. In total, there are 42 farmers in "Ysyk-Kѳl Organic", the total area of their land plots exceeds 300 hectares, but only 22 hectares of them are occupied by valerian. In 2021, the farmers exported 19 tons of this useful raw material to Europe. Now they intend to reach the figure of 60 tons.
With a sub-grant from the Rural Development Fund, the cooperative "Ysyk-Kѳl Organic" purchased a scooter for cargo transportation and a drying container.
- This made our work easier and created good conditions," says Sonungul Zhyltyrova.
Gulnur Chodronova
Gulnur Chodronova is the head of the Zhashyl ѳmүr agricultural cooperative in the village of Kara-Bulun, At-Bashy district, Naryn province. It unites 30 farmers and they also received support from the Rural Development Fund. The farmers leased one hectare of land, fenced it, cleared it of weeds and planted four types of medicinal herbs: valerian, calendula, chamomile and echinacea. Since there are problems with irrigation water in the area where the cultivated area is located, the farmers decided to apply the drip irrigation method, for which they bought all the necessary equipment. They also bought a motoblock (similar to a mini-tractor), a pump, a washer, and a drying container.
The head of the cooperative lists the advantages of drip irrigation over traditional irrigation:
- Such irrigation allows water to be delivered directly to the roots of plants without flooding the entire area, and it helps get rid of weeds. Water is used sparingly.
Gulnur also says that cultivating medicinal herbs is not easy, but she emphasizes that it is interesting. It is believed that not all crops take root in At-Bashy district because of the harsh climatic conditions: locals mainly grow potatoes, carrots and beets. So, cultivation of valerian and other useful plants is a novelty for the highlands.
- Thanks to the Rural Development Fund project, we have mobilized not only our village, but even the whole district. Because when we planted medicinal herbs, all the other people came, interested," says Gulnur Chodronova.
#We are learning to pick chamomile and calendula flowers, and in the fall we will start digging up valerian roots. We hope to get a good harvest, because the Kyrgyz have a proverb: "El emgegin zher zhebeit" - "The earth will not absorb people's labor," she said.
Since farmers are growing medicinal crops for the first time, they have no experience in marketing such products. According to Gulnur, the project organizers have thought of this point and have already provided contacts of pharmaceutical companies willing to buy raw materials.
Many people spontaneously dig up medicinal plants in the mountains, damaging Kyrgyzstan's biodiversity, she said. This project encourages Kyrgyz people to grow them on their plots of land, earning a cash income, and to take care of the flora of their native country.
Kayyrsa Nurdinova and Aichurek Tyulekeeva
Kayyrsa Nurdinova and Aichurek Tyulekeeva are representatives of the public association "Sanrabigo" from Kara-Too village, Kochkor district, Naryn province. The organization has existed since 1998 as an association of women in vulnerable situations (e.g. widows). It implements various social projects. And since October 2021, it has been participating in the Rural Development Fund project, receiving a sub-grant to grow medicinal plants and produce kurut with their addition. According to Kayirsy-Ezhe, she already has experience in making such a national dairy product with medicinal herbs that have antihelminthic properties, as well as those useful for lung diseases. Life has shown that drinking it has a positive effect on the body, she says.
- She started the trials with her family and after positive results, she continuously applied for a grant for the production of suzmyo and kurut to different organizations since 2015, but unfortunately she did not receive support anywhere.
- With the grant received from RDF, I bought equipment for making kurut," Kayırsa-Ezhe continues. - I also sowed several types of medicinal herbs in my vegetable garden. It turns out that calendula grows well in the Kochkor district. With God's help, I hope to grow herbs that are useful to the people of Kyrgyzstan and thus serve them.
Aichurok Tyulekeeva said her family had tabyptar (folk healers).
- I worked as a teacher, and now I am retired. Together with Sanrabigo, I grow medicinal herbs. I used to plant chamomile and calendula on my plot and explain their healing properties to people. And the qualities of many other useful plants growing in Kyrgyzstan. And from mountain products, for example, the healing properties of horse meat. Thus, its broth cleanses the intestines. Corn stigmas have choleretic properties. Wild pink clover (ui bede) is useful in cardiovascular diseases. I tell everyone about how and where to collect useful plants, how to dry, apply. My mother used to tell me: "This herb cures this disease", something I memorized, something I studied myself.
Gulsara Chynybaeva
This training participant from Chelpek village, Ak-Suu district, Issyk-Kul oblast, head of Zhyldyz Jamaat, impressed with the presentation of her activity - she collected a portfolio with colorful photos.
- I am a private entrepreneur. I have a small enterprise with eight workplaces. I pay my employees on time. We bake bread, produce dairy products, process fruits and berries, develop tourism. We grow currants, dry kurut, apples and apricots, we also produce ghee. We sell our products to kindergartens and schools," said Gulsara Chynybaeva.
And now we offer you a photo report from the trainings: