Husnidin Kuziboev, training and agronomy specialist – team leader, displays the better quality onions grown from Texas Early Grano seed supplied by the USAID-funded Productive Agriculture in Tajikistan project.
Onion farmers in the Shahritus district of southern Tajikistan are doubling their sales because they are growing better quality onions in greater volume with the help of the USAID Productive Agriculture in Tajikistan project. Last year, demonstration plots for seven varieties and hybrids of early and late onions were planted by the USAID-funded project in northern Tajikistan. During an open field day, interested buyers, agro-dealers, wholesalers, farmers and others attended a demonstration field day. Akkuziev Fayzidin, the head of Dekhan Farms in Shahritus district, learned that the project specialist used a new variety of early onion seed called “Texas Early Grano,” a variety that Fayzidin then purchased for planting last fall.
Fayzidin requested that the project also conduct a demonstration plot of this variety on his farm in the Shahritus district, an area which traditionally specializes in growing early onions. The demonstration field had one plot planted with the commonly used local variety of onions called “Express” and another area of the field with the new Texas Early Grano. “Aldava” seeds, used previously in the USAID demonstration plot in the north, were also planted. Local fertilizers were used on the traditional plot, while the area planted with the new varieties demonstrated project-approved best agricultural practices and fertilizer applied at recommended rates.
As a result of this demonstration in Fayzidin's fields, it was clear that the new seed varieties ripened one week earlier and these onions not only came to market earlier but were rounder, larger and appealed more to wholesale buyers. Moreover, the average weight of the high-yielding onions, using the methods promoted by the project, was 150-200 grams per onion, compared with traditional onions weighing100-150 grams. In addition, the high-yield demonstration plot generated 50 tons of onions per hectare (ha), whereas the yield of the traditional crop was significantly lower at 35 tons per ha.
Before selling the onions, Fayzidin had agreed with a wholesaler on a price of 2 Tajikistani Somoni (US $.44) per kilo. He sold 10 tons of Texas Early Grano onions harvested from 0.2 ha and made a profit of $3,778. The traditional variety of onions is normally bought by wholesalers for 1.5 Somoni, so he made more money on the new variety – doubling sales to over $10,555 per ha. With project assistance, agro-dealers increased orders of the Texas Early Grano variety and also increased sales of improved quality onions in the northern and southern areas of Tajikistan.
“Thanks to the project, I found a new onion variety that has increased the quality and quantity of my harvest!” Fayzidin said. “I was able to sell these better quality onions for a higher price than my previous crop. I found wholesalers who were interested in buying my new onions and I shared my experience with other farmers. I will continue to grow these new onion varieties on my farm and use the technical knowledge I learned to increase my yield.”