A Woman Committed to End Poverty: A dream that came true
Sojidamo walking around their 1.7 hectares of land of trees.
Muminobod is one of poorest districts in Tajikistan, and home to about 63,242 people. As a district that relies on agriculture, it has to be financially subsidized by the government. Its residents have little employment opportunities to sustain their livelihoods.
In Muminobod, Oxfam works with women-led initiatives, that expand the livelihood choices of women – from the most marginalized communities – and young women who cannot pursue higher education because they have to earn, and feed their families.
Heavy economic downturn in the country force more and more men to leave the rural areas in search of better work prospects. Women have to take over the traditional male roles in farming. Smallholder farming has increasingly become a “women’s work”, making them key beneficiaries in development programs.
Sojidamo Asoeva, from Momandiyon Village, is a local farmer who joined ‘Ru’yo’ (‘a Dream’), a group of farm producers, in 2015. She comes from a very poor family who was not able to complete primary school because her family could not afford to pay for school books and uniforms to pursue her education. When she was little, she had to work in the field long hours with her parents to make a living.
"Before joining the group, I followed only traditional farming knowledge that I received from my parents," Sojidamo shared. "I planted the same type of crop over and over, but the harvest was only very little. The hard work did not pay off." she continued. After participating in agro-training sessions conducted by Oxfam and its development partners, Sojidamo became more confident: "I now have a better understanding on how to conserve soil and water, how to conduct seasonal crop mapping, and different ways of drying fruits and vegetables so that it would look more presentable and attractive to my buyers at the market." The sessions on developing small businesses also inspired her to scale up her own. "Within the group we have 1.7 hectares of land full of fruit trees and household plots, where we grow vegetables. My husband is a carpenter. He prepared more than 300 pallets for all members to use to dry their fruits and vegetables, for free." told Sojidamo.
Ru’yo is an honorable member of regional and national food expo and exhibitions. They hold certificates from government. In 2016, they sold tons of fruits, vegetables, seasonings, herbs, many jars of pickled food, dairy products, honey and lentils. "I spent significant portion of my income paying off University bills for my daughter and son," Sojidamo continued.
Sojidamo's work as a woman farmer has inspired young women and girls from her group to follow suit. "They already applied for more land as private landlords. That will give them more independence and more income," she said proudly. "Our secret to this success are not the products that we are selling. It is our zeal to thrive; our hard work on the field; our careful study of the demands of our market, and how we relate with our customers", she continued. When asked about her plans for the future, Sojidamo answered, "I plan to participate at annual national food exhibitions, and partner with whole-buyer companies and food processing factories."