“We want to showcase successful examples of farming to the residents of our village, which will help us develop faster” Mirbek Karabalayev, project participant and chairman of the “Baichik” cooperative.

It’s time to delve into the fascinating world of cooperative agriculture and learn more about the project that has had a significant impact on the lives of the residents of Uchkun village. In this interview, Mirbek Karabalaev will share his experience, and we will discover how the “Baychik” cooperative has become an integral part of this community. Dear readers, get ready to immerse yourselves in an engaging story about the achievements that accompany our organization’s project.

Hello, Mirbek! Thank you for taking the time. Please tell us a little about yourself and what you usually do in your daily life?

My name is Mirbek. I am a resident of Uchkun village in the Naryn region, and I am involved in animal husbandry and farming. The majority of my work revolves around breeding and caring for animals, as well as cultivating agricultural crops. Additionally, in my free time, I actively participate in projects and engage in volunteer activities. I strive not only to develop our farm but also to contribute to the well-being of our community. Since the beginning of this year, I have been leading the agricultural commercial cooperative “Baychik” and the public association AKIYA, both founded in our village of Uchkun.

It would be interesting to know what valuable knowledge and skills you have gained through your participation in the training within the project. What abilities and knowledge have you acquired that have proven useful?

With our participation in the “El-Too” project since 2022, we, the residents of Uchkun village, have gained valuable knowledge and skills in permaculture. We actively engage in the “El-Too” project and expand our knowledge with each experience. The training has allowed us to learn about growing fruits and vegetables, proper species selection, planting techniques, greenhouse construction, and has broadened our understanding of permaculture.

The knowledge of proper seedling planting, plant disease prevention, treatment methods, and harvest preservation has proven particularly useful. We strive to apply the acquired knowledge in our work. Currently, we are actively expanding the area of our gardens and fruit orchards. Of course, venturing into a new field of activity presents certain challenges, but our efforts are tirelessly focused on achieving success.

Congratulations to you and the other members on the establishment of the cooperative during your participation in the project! The opening of the cooperative is a significant achievement. Please tell us about the “Baychik” cooperative and its areas of work?

Thank you! During our participation in the “El-Too” project, we decided to establish a commercial cooperative. Our cooperative encompasses several diverse areas of activity, allowing us to cover different aspects of agriculture and provide a wide range of services. We are involved in the cultivation of vegetables and fruits, which are important sources of food for people. Additionally, we have chosen the direction of animal feed, meat, and milk production. We also focus on organizing training programs, providing agricultural machinery for farming activities, and, finally,  tourism.

Can you tell us how many members are currently part of your cooperative and what types of activities you undertake?

Currently, our cooperative consists of 7 families from our village, and we are currently focusing on vegetable and fruit cultivation. Within our experiment, we plan to plant various types of vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and others. By the way, we are currently planting carrots. We are also conducting experiments with different types of seeds, including expensive, more affordable, and certified ones. We aim to identify seeds that demonstrate excellent adaptation to the conditions of our village and can ensure high crop yields, thereby determining the optimal options for future use and cultivation.

In our village of Uchkun, the weather conditions differ from other villages. Due to the climate conditions, we were unable to start sowing, but our greenhouses are already ready for use. Considering the clay soil we work with, we bring animal manure from the mountains to improve soil quality. However, we face difficulties in preparing the land as we only have equipment for soil preparation and plowing. But when it comes to transporting fertilizers, we lack sufficient equipment. It constantly requires additional time and equipment for transporting fertilizers, and manual loading requires tremendous effort.

What changes have been observed in the village and among the residents as a result of participating in the educational programs of the project?

During our participation in the educational programs, noticeable changes have occurred in our village. We have gained valuable knowledge about cultivating crops on small plots of land, diversifying plantings, and principles of permaculture. The residents of Uchkun have shown a tremendous interest in the new methods and ideas we have learned during our training. They ask questions about proper berry and vegetable planting and how to use them as a source of additional income. Many people have noticed our work and become intrigued by the unconventional soil cultivation methods, sparking discussions on the importance of working with the land.

Could you tell us about your future plans and how you plan to develop the cooperative?

We hope that the cooperative will continue its work as the villagers are constantly seeking opportunities. We want to showcase successful examples of farming to the residents of our village, which will help us develop faster.

In our village, spring comes late and autumn arrives early, which requires special attention and adaptation in our activities. We are considering the possibility of building sheds or greenhouses to improve the conditions for agriculture. However, we understand that such a transition requires significant financial investment, which is not always available. Therefore, we plan to find more affordable ways for every resident to afford it. We have plans to conduct an experiment in this direction next year.

Additionally, our plans include recruiting new members and developing the 7 existing members of the cooperative in 7 different directions.

What valuable advice would you like to give to participants of our future projects, based on your experience and knowledge?

My advice to future participants is to be actively engaged in the training and pay attention to everything. Take notes and try not to miss any educational sessions. Apply the knowledge you gain in practice and actively expand your experience. Keep sharing new knowledge with others. Thank you!

Our project participants in Uchkun village (Naryn) established “Baichik” cooperative to provide fresh vegetables to Naryn region.
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