From the farm to the school table

Since 2006, school-provided meals have been one of Kyrgyzstan’s strategies for fighting food insecurity. The main beneficiaries have traditionally been the students, who receive a hot breakfast each day. But now, a FAO pilot programme is exploring how this scheme can improve the lives of smallholder farmers as well.


Although farmers make up over a quarter of Kyrgyzstan’s workforce, many of them face barriers to growth and development. Individual farmers have trouble meeting the volume that some contracts demand, and they may lack the resources necessary to obtain certificates of quality for their produce. Not having a contract, combined with poor storage facilities, means that smallholder farmers have to spend more time finding buyers – and then sell their produce in a flooded market. “In the fall, the prices for produce drop,” says farmer Azamat Boskebaev, who grows vegetables, grain and clover. “That means losses for the farmer.”

儘管農民占吉爾吉斯斯坦勞動力的四分之一以上,但他們中的許多人面臨著增長和發展的障礙。個別農民難以滿足某些合同所要求的產量,而且他們可能缺乏獲得產品品質證書所必需的資源。由於沒有合同,加上倉儲設施落後,小農不得不花更多時間尋找買家,然後試著在已飽和的市場上出售農產品。種植蔬菜、穀物和三葉草的農民阿紮馬特(Azamat Boskebaev)說:“秋天,農產品價格下降,這對我們農民來說就意味著損失。”

At the same time, some schools are struggling to find the steady supply of quality produce they need to feed their children. Between 2016-2017 alone, schools within the Kemin District needed an estimated 9.2 tonnes of potatoes, 4.2 tonnes of carrots and 2.6 tonnes of onions – not to mention additional cabbage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, beets and garlic. “We do not have warehouses at the school, so we have to buy produce little by little,” says Galina Shakun, principal of a school in Kemin.

與此同時,一些學校正在努力尋找穩定優質的農產品供應,以滿足孩子們的需要。僅2016年至2017年,光是克敏區(Kemin)的學校估計就需要9.2噸土豆、4.2噸胡蘿蔔和2.6噸洋蔥,更不用說捲心菜、甜椒、番茄、黃瓜、蘿蔔、甜菜和大蒜了。“我們學校沒有倉庫,所以我們只能每次少量地購買農產品,”克敏區一所學校的校長加利娜•沙昆(Galina Shakun)表示。

To address the issues, FAO is developing a Logistic Centre in Kemin as part of a pilot programme to link local farmers with Kyrgyzstan’s National School Feeding Programme. Equipped with a lab and storage facilities, the Logistic Centre can certify, buy and store local produce before selling and delivering it to nearby schools. As a result, the Logistic Centre bridges a key disconnect: the inability of smallholder farmers to access the certification their produce needs in order to be served in schools – or shipped elsewhere.


The pilot is part of the FAO project “Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia.” Launched in 2016 and funded by the Russian Federation, the programme aims to strengthen food security and reduce all forms of malnutrition in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The overall aim here is to increase the effectiveness of the entire process of organizing school feeding by contributing to development of sustainable value chains.


Although the pilot programme in Kyrgyzstan only serves 29 schools, its success could serve as a model for other initiatives across the country. Until recently, Kyrgyzstan lacked an efficient mechanism to enable cooperation between farmers and schools. But because school cafeterias are in need of quality vegetables virtually all year round, Kyrgyzstan’s National School Feeding Programme could become a sustainable sales market for local farmers – simultaneously supplying food for children and boosting local economies.


At one of the participating schools in the town of Orlovka in Kemin District, Principal Shakun is relieved. The school is used to challenges – an unused chemistry classroom had to be converted to a cafeteria in order to qualify the school for the National School Feeding Programme – but finding enough food to feed 333 primary-school students each day has been a perpetual concern. Now, the Logistic Centre is helping ease the pressure. “We are all for cooperating with the Logistic Centre because it is definitely going to benefit our children,” she says.