SARD III support for smallholders: the SARD III Apple Farming and Cultivation activity targeted at Turkmen orchards

April 30, 2020, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: The European Union funded “Support to Further Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Turkmenistan – SARD III” Project’s Apple Farming and Cultivation Activity aims to provide continued technical support to Turkmen apple-growing enterprises. Provided under the Project’s Pillar A the objective of the activity is targeted at boosting the horticultural sector by equipping Turkmen farmers with the best international apple-producing practices through pieces of training and field days conducted by SARD III international short-term experts in the modern Turkmen apple orchards.

SARD III Team organized five sessions in 2018 and 2019, which covered theoretical pieces of training as well as practical work in the field, where SARD III international short-term expert and SARD III project experts worked with farmers and improved their skills and knowledge. The first three inputs of the international expert on apple production provided by SARD III project during 2018 have significantly assisted a number of selected pilot apple producers in Lebap and Akhal provinces. Pieces of training were conducted by a leading expert on agricultural engineering from Turkey and owner of “AlkanTarim” enterprise, Mr. Mustafa Alkan, and have gathered farmers from Turkmen apple-growing enterprises. Field training covered in particular enterprises located in Akhal and Lebap regions. Series of pieces of training have started from February 2019 covering key steps of modern apple production and best practices, phytosanitary issues, apple tree diseases, plant pathology, apple pests. The second round of training took place later in 2019 covering apple protection and disease prevention and management topics.

Pieces of training were timely organized for Turkmen farmers who established apple orchards in the recent past. SARD III international trainer, timely covered issues such as orchard disease management, irrigation, pruning, apple nutrition, thinning, picking, and in the season farmers could make use of obtained knowledge for their own benefit. “Local apple producers have begun implementing the new apple planting methods they have learned from the project,” says Arthur Russell, Team Leader of the SARD III Project, “they have not only managed to rectify some deficiencies, which otherwise could have led to lower productivity and shorter productive lifespan of the trees, but last year were also able to offer to the domestic market the first locally produced red and green apples with better taste and quality compared to imported ones”.

The SARD III Apple Farming and Cultivation activity has further proved to be successful when in February 2020; the Turkmen apple-growing enterprise “Oguz Yoly” invited Mr. Mustafa Alkan to advise agronomists and technical experts of the farm on the best apple cultivation practices and methods. SARD III project team, at the request of the enterprise, introduced Mr. Alkan with the Oguz Yoly apple farm for the purpose of further cooperation.

This activity was part of SARD III activities aimed at supporting the Government of Turkmenistan in increasing productivity and competitiveness of the agri-food sector through activities that improve production, processing, and marketing, as well as strengthening the capacity of supporting public sector agriculture institutions.  Within the framework of the fruit value chain development activities SARD III has organized series of seminars on plant protection, drip irrigation, and apples pruning, which could generate both private sector development and improvement of apple trees, and export promotion.

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