Executive summary 1. Project objective. The original project development objective of the EFSSIP is to increase domestic food production and reduce the loss of livestock to help at least 28,000 poorest households in a timely manner to reduce the negative impact of high and volatile food prices. More specifically, the project provided agricultural production inputs and critical livestock-related inputs to the poorest farmers and female–headed households, to support their immediate food security as well as to recover their production losses and livelihoods.
The above development objective would be amended to cover additional 55,500 poorest households and include the following objectives: (i) to improve the institutional environment for mitigating future food price shocks for the poorest households through creation of a network of Community Seed Banks, and (ii) to develop private agro-input supply system to enable food supply response and agriculture diversification.
2. Project description. The project will be composed of four components:
Component A: Support for Agricultural Inputs. Additional US $1.8 million financing will be included to finance the costs of imports of high quality corn seeds and fertilizer in time for summer 2009 plantings in the severely food insecure areas identified by WFP Food Security Monitoring System in January 2009. The support would be provided in standard packages composed of high quality seed for winter wheat and fertilizer.
Component C: Project Management (total of US$ 0.565 million). This component will finance incremental staff, consultants, operating costs, some technical assistance and training, M&E activities, special studies and impact assessments, information dissemination and annual audits.
Component D: Community Seed Groups (US$ 2.45 million). Under this component it will be supported institution building of about 65 community seed groups (CSGs) for the benefit of and to be run by the rural poor located in the selected districts, including procurement of: (i) technical services to establish and maintain a seed bank (with a subsequent sustainability of yields and activity); (ii) purchases of quality seeds and fertilizer (with a subsequent increase in yields); and (iii) technical assistance to help CSGs market their surplus seeds (creating additional sources of income) in the selected villages.
Component E: Agro-Input Supply Market Development (US$ 1.35 million). The component will develop a private network of agri-input dealers to supply Tajik farmers with quality inputs and technical knowledge that would increase farm incomes and reverse the low-input, low-output spiral and will finance the following activities: (i) assessment of the needs of farmers and the agri-input demand and supply situation; (ii) identification of potential agri-input dealers and their training; (iii) organization of field demonstrations with improved crop production and agrochemicals usage technologies; (iv) production of technical brochures and conduct of public outreach to increase production and stimulate farmer demand for inputs; (v) help dealers find supplies and credit, expand business, and provide extension services; and (vi) establishment of a democratic and sustainable trade association of input dealers.
Component F – Project Management of the PMU (US$0.4 million). This component will finance coordination of the new activities and the fiduciary functions of the Center for Managing Projects on Cotton Farm Debt Resolution and Sustainable Cotton Sector Development (PMU). The PMU will require some additional staff and equipment and financing of additional operating expenses to carry out these additional activities. The project will finance incremental staff, consultants, operating costs, some technical assistance and training, M&E activities, special studies and impact assessments, information dissemination and annual audits.
3. Project location. The Component A will be implemented in Khatlon oblast (in 19 districts) while component D and E in Rasht Valley (in 7 districts).
4. Project category. In accordance with the Bank’s safeguard policies and procedures, including OP/BP/GP 4.01 Environmental Assessment, the proposed project has been classified as a Category B project for environmental assessment purposes. This requires the preparation of the following: (i) an Environmental Assessment encompassing the entire project scope; (ii) an Environmental Management Plan which would include steps to mitigate any potential impacts identified, together with the respective monitoring plan, budgets, responsibility and schedules of execution.
5. Purpose and Terms of Reference for the Environmental Assessment. The purpose of the environmental assessment (EA) is to identify the significant environmental impacts of the project (both positive and negative) and to specify appropriate preventive actions and mitigation measures (including appropriate monitoring) to prevent, eliminate or minimize any anticipated adverse impacts. An Environmental Assessment (EA) was carried out by an independent local consultant, based on what was prepared a simple Environmental Management Plan (EMP). The EA report was prepared based on the following: (i) analysis of the existing national legal documents, regulations and guidelines; (ii) WB safeguard policies, as well as guiding materials; (iii) exisitng EA for similar projects; and (iii) results of consultations with the representatives from all interested parties and stakeholders.
6. Tajikistan Regulatory framework for EA. During the last decade Tajikistan has developed its own EA rules and procedures, which generally are in line with the WB requirements. The main regulatory act in this area, - the Law on Ecological Expertise clearly stipulates the main responsibilities, as well as requirements for conducting environmental impact assessment and review of activities that might have an impact on the environment. The law introduces the concept of state ecological review (literally, state ecological “expertise” – SEE) which seeks to examine the compliance of proposed activities and projects with the requirements of environmental legislation and standards. The SEE precedes decision-making about activities that may have an adverse impact on the environment. Financing of programs and projects is allowed only after a positive SEE conclusion has been issued. According to the existing national EA legislation, the projects which involves providing agricultural inputs to the farmers doesn’t no require a special review by the SEE should include safety measures to be applied while handling them.
7. Institutional framework and capacities to perform safeguards. The EA institutional capacity of the borrower was assessed during project preparation and concluded that the FAO PIU and the State Committee for Environmental Protection and Forestry have relevant capacities to perform their duties concerning reviewing EA studies and enforcing EMP provisions. The project will support additional information dissemination and training activities to ensure the environmental requirements and EMP provisions will be fully implemented.
8. Potential environmental impacts. Activities under the project are not expected to generate significant and/or irreversible adverse environmental impacts and the project is therefore classified as Environmental Category B. Project components only involve the distribution of seeds and fertilizers and would have both positive and adverse environmental and social impacts. From the assessment, the identified positive impacts of the project include: (a) increased food security and household income for the smallholder farmers, due to higher agricultural productivity; (b) improved nutritional status of the farmers due to increased agricultural production; (c) improved farmer skills from trainings in technologies, seed breeding, fertilizer use and land conservation; (d) improved soil fertility due to fodder crop sowing (enrichment by nitrogen), use of phosphorus-potassium fertilizers; and (e) increased opportunity for engagement in other income generating activities or small scale businesses by smallholder farmers due to increased food security for the households.
A number of potential negative impacts that may result from implementation of the project include the following: (a) increased pollution of ground and surface waters pollution due to soil erosion and use of fertilizers and pesticides; (b) threats to human health and wildlife due to poor handling of treated seeds, fertilizers and pesticides; (c) increased siltation of water bodies due to soil erosion. Most of these potential environmental impacts are minor and could be easily managed during the project implementation by applying a set of avoidance and prevention measures.
9. Environment Management Plan. The Environmental Management Plan, prepared for the First Phase of the project, was reviewed and updated in February-March, 2009. The review provided an update on pest management issues in agriculture production. Based on that review, the EMP contains new provisions on pest management, including guidance on all issues that will be covered in the pest management training sessions and field demonstrations, including good practices in the use of pesticides, integrated pest management, the list of permitted pesticides, and existing pesticide use regulations.
10. Monitoring plan. The EMP includes a Monitoring Plan with measures that will be employed to track the effectiveness of the Mitigation Plan and described the environmental indicators to be monitored, along with the monitoring methods, frequency, costs, as well as the monitoring and reporting procedures, including institutional arrangements for the implementation of this plan. It addresses in particular project need to monitor and mitigate negative impact of increase in the use of agrochemicals.
11. EA report disclosure and consultation. The Ministry of Agriculture has disseminated the draft summary EMP in its institutions and to other relevant ministries for review and comments, also posting (on March 27, 2009) it for wide public on the web-page of the Tajik Branch of the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (website www.carecnet.org). After two weeks time on April 30, 2009, the PIU has conducted a public briefing and consultation meeting on the document. Outside of participants from the interested state institutions in the meeting took part also representatives from environmental and agricultural NGOs, local representatives of the government bodies, such as CEP, MoA, MoH, MIWR, and others. The meeting concluded that the draft EMP document covered practically all potential impacts and possible mitigation measures. The draft EMP was revised after the meeting, taking into account inputs from the consultation. The final version of the EMP was posted on the web sites (www.aarhus.tj and www.carecnet.org) on May 8, 2009 and provided to the World Bank, and will be used by the government agencies in the project implementation.
I. Country’s background 12. Tajikistan is a small, mountainous, landlocked country with a territory of 143,1 thousand km2. Population of the country, according to the census conducted in 2000, numbers 6 million 127,5 thousand people. Of the total area of 14,3 million hectares (ha) 4,6 million ha is agriculture land. With rural population of 4,6 million, this means a very limited land availability of about 0.16 ha/capita1 of rural population.
13. The country is considered the poorest of the former Soviet Union countries. In 2003, 64 percent of the population was poor (defined as living on less than USD 2.15 per day at purchasing power parity). Almost three quarters of Tajikistan’s poor people, but only 65 percent of the population, live in two regions, Khatlon and Sugd2. However, a poverty rate of 64 percent in 2003 represents a considerable improvement over 2000, when 83 percent of the residents lived below the official poverty line.
14. The country’s economy deeply suffered from both the disintegration of the Former Soviet Union in 1991 and the bitter Civil War that began in 1992. Impoverished by sudden shortages of fuel, income, and food, the population has reverted to subsistence practices, which put an extra burden on the natural resources and the environment of the country.
15. The socio-political and economic shocks of this last decade have directly affected the environment causing degradation especially in a few major areas: (i) natural disasters; (ii) land degradation; (iii) limited access to safe drinking water supply; (iv) threatened wildlife and protected areas, (v) air pollution in urban areas; and (vi) water pollution and wastes management3.
16. The country has four administrative regions: (i) Khatlon (includes Kurgan-Tube and Kulyab), which is an agricultural area with most of country’s cotton growing districts; (ii) the Rayons of Republican Subordination (RRS) with the massive aluminum smelter (TADAZ) in the west and agricultural valleys in the east predominantly growing crops other than cotton; (iii) Sugd, which is the most industrialized region but also involved in cotton growing; and (iv) Gorno-Badakhshan Administrative Oblast (GBAO), which is mountainous, remote and sparsely populated.
17. About 4.1 million ha of the country territory is agricultural land; most of this land is pasture (more than 3 million ha). The area of arable and irrigated land per capita is lower in Tajikistan than in other Central Asian countries. This is a bottleneck in the development of the country’s economy, in particular in view of the rapid increase of the population. Of Tajikistan’s total 851,000 ha of arable land, 719,000 ha are irrigated.
18. Tajikistan is very rich in freshwaters. On average 50.9 billion m3 of water is formed annually on its territory4. These resources stem from precipitation and melting glaciers, which, along with snowfields, constitute a huge reserve of water (estimated at 845 billion m3, covering 8% of the territory). These waters drain to the Aral Sea basin, where they represent 55% of the total basin flow. They flow to the Amu Darya river (50.2 billion m3) and the Syr-Darya river (0.7 billion m3), through Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. There are 1300 lakes containing 46 billion m3 of water, and 9 water reservoirs (overall capacity 15.3 billion m3, individual capacity from 0.028 to 10.5 billion m3). The latter are mainly used to produce electricity, to irrigate crops and to protect from mudflows.
19. Tajikistan is home to unique species of flora and fauna. There are 4 nature reserves (zapovedniks), 14 nature refuges (zakazniks) and 2 National Parks – most of them established during the Soviet times. Nature reserves exist along the Vakhsh river delta (Tigrovaya Balka), in Southern Tajikistan, characterized by tugai forests along the Vakhsh and Panj rivers; in Dashtijum, where populations of markhor, snow leopard and Siberian ibex live; and in Zorkul, which includes the protected areas of Zorkul lake islands, where bar-headed goose and argali are nesting. Despite these figures, nearly 80 percent of Tajik unique ecosystems are located outside protected areas.
20. The flora and fauna of the country consists of more than 23,000 species of which about 1,900 are endemic. Rare and endangered animals include the sheep Marco Polo, snow leopard, peregrine, paradise flycatcher, mountain goose, marmot, gray lizard, and Siberian ibex. The Red Data Book also lists the Bukhara red deer, the Persian gazelle, and the koodoo markhur as vulnerable fauna. A number of birds are equally endangered, for example a number of species of waders, birds of pray, pheasants, cranes, plovers, pigeons, and swifts. Nearly half of the species of the mid-mountain forest ecosystems are considered endangered because of reduced habitat. Cutting trees, overgrazing, as well as poaching represent serious threats to the preservation of wildlife in the country. In addition, lack of environmental education contributes to a poor use of biological resources. For example, more than 60 species of wild medicinal factories that grow in Tajik forests are used by people in the country without necessarily knowing weather the specie is endangered or not.
21. There are 1,941,000 ha of forest lands in the country which constitute only about 3% of its territory. The closed forest of 40% crown coverage or more is estimated at 401,000 ha. Satellite images show that 694,000 ha are forest or areas covered with trees and shrubs. Since forests secure water, prevent erosion and protect soils, logging is prohibited except for sanitary tree-cuttings and restoration works. Clear-cutting is not allowed, only selective cutting. The forests productivity is poor with only about 10% with the higher growth classes. The total timber volume in natural forests is estimated to just above 5 million m3. This is less than 13 m3 per ha of closed forest, a very low figure.
22. The agricultural sector represents the basis for the national economy, - in 2003, it represented about 26 percent of the country’s GDP and two thirds of its labor force was employed in this sector. Along with cotton (the main crop in Tajikistan’s agriculture), the country cultivates rice, cereals, tobacco, potatoes, vegetables, and vineyards. Livestock breeding (cattle, sheep and goats) is second to cotton growing in for the economic value generated. The structure of production changed considerably after independence, as the share of production devoted to basic foodstuffs such as grain and potatoes has increased. However, cotton remains the dominating cash crop.
23. In 2004, agricultural land extended over 4.2 million ha, or about 30 percent of the country’s total land area (14.2 million ha.). The vast majority of agricultural land is pasture, 3.4 million ha, or 81 percent. Most of pastures in the country are summer pastures at high altitude. Summer pastures, though, are not used intensely which, in turn, creates more pressure on winter pastures with negative consequences for production and land degradation. Arable lands (irrigated and non-irrigated) account for 800 thousand. Irrigated agricultural land represents only about 17 percent of all agricultural land, but it generates about 80 percent of agricultural production, and 85 percent of water use for irrigation. About 83 percent of irrigated land is located in the Khatlon and Sugd regions.
24. Tajikistan has approximately 718,049 ha of irrigated land incorporating almost 6,000 km of main irrigation canals and about 12,000 km of drainage infrastructure. A significant share of this infrastructure is no longer fully operational. Estimates of land area that is still able to grow irrigated crops, even at low productivity levels, vary considerably but seem to converge around a figure of 630,000 ha, implying that about 88,000 ha of land are not irrigated because of malfunctioning irrigation infrastructure. In addition, approximately 116,000 ha of the irrigated land are affected by various degree of salinization.5 Thus, in reality the irrigated land unaffected by adverse factors is around 514,000 ha. Half of the irrigated land is in Khatlon, 35 percent in Sugd and 14 percent in RRS. Cotton is the overwhelmingly dominant cash crop, accounting for almost 30 percent of the country’s export earnings6. Three quarters of Tajikistan’s farmland and a similar share of farm households are dedicated to growing cotton, although other crops (wheat, vegetables and etc.) are taking an increasing share.