The fourth annual fruit-and-berry festival “Karagat Fest” was held in Teploklyuchenka village of Ak-Suu district, Issyk-Kul region, on August 6, 2016. The event has been held for the fourth consecutive year as part of the Karagat Plus Program implemented by AVEP Non-Governmental Foundation with the financial support of Kumtor Gold Company. The Company’s contribution into the program implementation and development of greenhouse facilities during the four years has amounted to KGS 67 million.
This year the Fest has been attended by the Kyrgyz Government’s Special Representative in Issyk-Kul region, akim of Ak-Suu district, farmers’ associations, companies and societies, carrying out their activities in Issyk-Kul region, representatives of Kumtor Company, as well as about 3,000 participants from 30 villages of region. Traditionally, the Fest is held in August, when the locals get the crop of fruits and berries. The event brings together guests from all over the region and neighboring regions. Every year, the Fest is attended by about 2,000-3,000 people. The goal of the Fest is to popularize and promote fruits and berries grown in Issyk-Kul region in the domestic and foreign markets.
Participants of the Fest have prepared the festive parade of berries, arranged a fruit-and-berry fair, master classes, where attendees could learn how to improve the fruit-and-berry production practices, how to export the products, how to erect a greenhouse and how to install and use a drip irrigation system. Guests have had an opportunity to taste and purchase different varieties of fruits and berries. The Fest has been accompanied by an entertainment program and performances of popular musical bands. The organizers and sponsors of the event prepared prizes that have been given out to the particularly distinguished farmers and active participants. Children received gifts from Bugu Ene Social Fund, which included special puzzles, maps and books issued with the support of Kumtor Gold Company. Moreover, all guests and participants could visit the Kumtor Gold Company’s information booth, where the company’s employees told about the projects on the development of Issyk-Kul region and shared printed materials about Kumtor’s activities. Every guest could hold the model of a gold bar and get an answer to his/her question about the gold mining enterprise.
“The goal of our Fest is to help the farmers sell their fruit-and-berry crops and establish links between them and the buyers. Since fruit-and-berry production is an important part of Issyk-Kul’s economy, we believe that such events allow to introduce the export potential of our fruits and berries to prospective buyers and thus contribute to the sector development,” Nurlan Tokonov noted.
“The concept of Karagat Plus Program is to teach the farmers to apply new techniques and practices. The Program introduces innovative methods of crop production, teaches the farmers to use new methods and approaches in agriculture, spreads frost-resistant and high-yielding seedlings, erects greenhouses and storage rooms, introduces drip irrigation. For example, about five thousand farmers have been trained to apply new watering methods using drip irrigation. People appreciated its importance and it has become very popular in the region, where certain problems with irrigation water exist. Thousands of farmers have learnt to grow crops in the greenhouses. Greenhouse facilities have been built at the premises of four vocational schools and seven social institutions of Issyk-Kul Region. Now their students and fosterlings can continue their education on greenhouse management and apply their knowledge in the future. We have achieved good results over these years, and the company is not going to rest on its laurels, but will continue contributing to the agriculture development,” noted Rodney Stuparyk, Kumtor Gold Company’s Vice President, Risk Management, Compliance and Sustainable Development.
AVEP Foundation is a Central Asian non-governmental and non-political organization working with a wide range of international organizations of private, public and social sectors, aiming at efficient assistance in sustainable and innovation-driven growth of rural regions of the Kyrgyz Republic.
Karagat Plus is a four-year program implemented by AVEP Foundation with the financial support of Kumtor Company. Activities of Karagat Plus are directed at the development of local communities and expansion of fruit-and-berry market potential. The Project pays particular attention to the training of farmers, so that they could establish marketing channels and increase their income from the sales of grown berries.
Interim Results of the Project:
• More than 10 advanced vocational trainings have been arranged for the staff of nursery gardens;
• Since 2013, 1,500 farmers have completed their training on drip irrigation and fruit-and-berry crop production;
• As part of the project, 3 short-term modular training courses have been developed: on currant raising, greenhouse facilities and gardening;
• 635 farmers have completed special training courses at the vocational schools, where they were taught how to grow fruits and berries;
• More than 33,000 seedlings of high-yielding varieties of berries have been distributed through the Karagat Plus Program during the four-year period of the project operation,
• Six nursery gardens have propagated 50,000 seedlings and sold them to the farmers;
• More than 13 varieties of fruit and berry crops have been imported, 3 of them have been included into the Plants Register of the Kyrgyz Republic;
• 4 demonstrational greenhouses have been built at the premises of vocational schools;
• 7 greenhouses have been built at the premises of social institutions;
• 14 farmers have taken out the loans for construction of greenhouses;
• after completion of short-term training courses, 20 farmers have built greenhouses and glasshouses at their own expense and kept on using the obtained knowledge and skills at their farmsteads;
Storage Rooms for Products:
• 8 farmers have obtained loans for construction of storage rooms for agricultural products. Up to 150 tonnes of fruits and vegetables are stored in those rooms annually;
• 20 fruit-and-berry collection centers have opened in Issyk-Kul region, 8 of them have established direct links with Kazakhstan and Russia.
• 745 tonnes of fruits and berries have been sold by farmers to collection centers over the past three years;
Creating the Target Market:
• Since 2013, Issyk-Kul farmers have signed agreements for the supply of 1,095 tonnes of fruits and berries. 27 contracts with local producers, processing enterprises and wholesale dealers have been already executed. Eight more contracts are underway;
• According to the sales agreements, 350 tonnes of fruits and berries are to be sold in 2016;
• 58 drip irrigation demonstration sites have been installed in 5 regions of Issyk-Kul region (8 sites – in vocational schools, 50 – in pilot villages).
• Of them, 44 demonstration sites are occupied by new varieties of currant, and 14 demonstration sites are planted with new varieties of apple, pear, apricot and cherry trees;
• Since 2013, more than 8,000 people have visited Karagat Fest, where farmers have managed to sell about 230 tonnes of fruits and berries over four years;
• In 2013, the fruit and berry festival was held in Jety-Oguz district, in 2014 – in Ton district and in 2015 – in Tyup district.
• As part of the project, 2 mobile applications assisting in currant growing and greenhouse management have been developed. Mobile apps are available at Google Play Store.
About the Project:
• Joint four-year program of Kumtor Gold Company and AVEP Foundation, Karagat Plus, is aimed at the development of local communities and expansion of fruit-and-berry market potential. The project is implemented in Issyk-Kul region, in particular, on the southern coast of the lake.
• As part of this environmental program, AVEP Foundation trains farmers in growing new high-yielding cold- and disease-resistant varieties of currants and innovative methods of irrigation. Specialists of AVEP Foundation assist in creation of a network of seedling nurseries, greenhouses and collection centers for agricultural products.
• More information is available at www.karagat.kg
• The Program is funded within the strategy for integrated sustainable development of Issyk-Kul region, which Kumtor Gold Company maintains as a socially responsible company. For the moment, Kumtor Gold Company has invested more than KGS 67 million into the Program. It is expected that the company will allocate about KGS 7 million for the project implementation in 2016.