Key Takeaways

After 20 years as a secondary school teacher in the Hissor District, Saidali Ravshanzoda, 58, is now focused on his family farm. They grow rice, wheat, corn, and cherries for sale in local markets.

The farm is the main source of livelihood for Saidali, his five children — one of whom is a returning migrant — and 15 grandchildren. The farm also provides seasonal jobs for over 40 rural women who help the family during harvest.

In February 2023, Saidali heard on local TV that concessional loans were being offered by Amonatbank (Tajik state savings bank). He immediately went to the bank and took a loan at 10% interest rate for three years in the local currency Somoni.

"The loan was of great help; normally our banks give loans at 33-38% annual interest rate. I spent the loan to buy 58 sacks of fertilizers and to fence my field from village cows grazing around," said Saidali. "I used to get 130-150 sacks of rice from my farm in the past. But this year, I harvested 400 sacks of rice."

Photo: Asian Development Bank
Saidali Ravshanzoda harvested 400 sacks of rice in 2023, as compared to 130-150 sacks in the past.

Saidali is among over 600 small and medium-sized farmers, including more than 200 women, who received concessional loans through a component of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Building Resilience with Active Countercyclical Expenditures (BRACE) Program. One of the program’s components provided concessional loans to small and medium-sized enterprises engaged in agriculture, services, and trade sectors through two state-owned banks.

  ADB approved the BRACE program in October 2022 to help the Government of Tajikistan expand social assistance for poor and vulnerable people, support domestic food production, safeguard small businesses, and support the employment of returning migrants. These areas were expected to be negatively impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Photo: Asian Development Bank
Mahbuba Ochildieva together with her four children and 12 grandchildren grows tomatoes, cucumbers, wheat, and other crops for their own consumption and for sale in the market.

Together with her four children and 12 grandchildren, 58-year-old Mahbuba Ochildieva, grows tomatoes, cucumbers, wheat, and other crops for their own consumption and for sale in the market.

In April 2023, she received a text message from a local branch of Amonatbonk about loans at 10% interest rate. Mahbuba took a loan to buy fertilizers. It was her first time to borrow from a bank, as interest rates are normally very high.

“The money has helped us to get a better yield,” said Mahbuba.

Hikmatullo Sharifov, 56, got a concessional loan in January 2023. He grows onions, wheat, and clover. The loan allowed him to buy seeds and fertilizers and pay for labor to prepare his fields for planting and harvesting.

“In Tajikistan, we are blessed with water and sun. We have land and our people are hardworking,” shared Hikmatullo. “The only missing part is cheap money. We need banks that provide affordable loans to people. The support we’ve got this year is very good, and I wish it would continue.”

Photo: Asian Development Bank
Hikmatullo Sharifov got a concessional loan to buy seeds, fertilizers, and pay for labor.

More than 60% of the labor force in Tajikistan work in the agricultural sector.   The BRACE program made 100 million somoni of affordable finance available in 2022 and 2023 for Tajikistan’s small businesses, the majority of which are food producers.

“Imagine if farmers had no money to plant their crops, food prices would have gone through the roof,” said ADB Country Director for Tajikistan Shanny Campbell. “I am glad that   ADB responded fast and helped during the country’s time of need.