The Power of Unity
How schools and farmers can help each other
SIFI and UN FAO joint publication
This publication is devoted to the pilot "School Food and Nutrition Program linked to the Agricultural Sector" that is currently implemented in the Kyrgyz Republic by the Food and Agriculture Organization of UN under the project "Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia".

This pilot is aimed at providing smallhoders in Kyrgyzstan with access to the agricultural market through a sustainable centralized model of supply of agricultural products to meet the needs of schools at Kemin District level. This should help increase the effectiveness of the entire process of organizing school feeding, contribute to development of sustainable value chains, and the National School Feeding Program.
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Land of the Celestial Mountains
A jewel in the crown of ancient empires, Kyrgyzstan will capture your heart at first sight with the lofty mountain ranges of the Pamirs and Tien Shan, the wide blue expanses of Lake Issyk-Kul, and the carpets of lush grassland. It is home to old-growth walnut forests and hot sulphuric springs.

Every guest will be presented with all kinds of surprises in Kyrgyzstan: its colorful yurts and felt carpets, kumis and Osh pilaf, traditional equestrian contests, chants, fairytales, and legends.

In a word, this is Asia in its glory — that's exactly what Kyrgyzstan is!
The Kyrgyz Republic
Trade & Services
Agriculture, hunting, forestry & fishing
Other sources
Official language
Form of government
Total area
Kyrgyz som (KGS)
199 951 sq km
GDP per capita
$1 286
According to the National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic
Population size
Life expectancy at birth is 71 year
14 203 KGS
Average monthly nominal wage
The poverty level in 2017
Main spheres of employment
State management
Public catering and hotels
Extreme Poverty
of the population
Kyrgyzstan is a sunny mountainous country with considerable reserves of clean water. It is no wonder that agriculture is the principal sector in the nation's economy. Today it provides jobs to most of the nation's employable population.
During the Soviet period, Kyrgyzstan was among the leaders in production of cotton, fruits, vegetables, and honey. Today, the Republic is totally self-sufficient in grain, sugar, cotton, and vegetables. The key grain crops are wheat, barley, corn, oats, and rice.
$ 3,04
Gross agricultural output (in 2017)
Crop production
Livestock raising
Forestry and fishery
312 900
Farm households
10 300
Area of farmland
sq km
According to the National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic
Volumes of production (USD million):
Melon crops
Fruit & Berries
Wheat & Pulses
Dynamics (in comparison with 2016)
In Kyrgyzstan, they cultivate over 20 different types of vegetable crops. In Chuy Region, they grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, and onions. In Issyk-Kul Region and Talas Region, they grow cabbage, radish, and legume crops. Cucurbits – pumpkins, watermelons, and melons – can be encountered most often in Osh Region and Jalal-Abad Region.
The Republic is rich in fruits, nuts, and berries. Its fertile soil is home to orchards of apples, pears, quince, sour cherry, plums, sweet cherry, cherry plums, peaches, apricots, figs, pomegranates, and persimmon. Of the nuts, there are almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, and walnuts, and of the berries there are strawberries, raspberries, currants, sea buckthorns, and barberries.
Problems of the countryside
Smallholders make up the majority of Kyrgyz agriculture.

Today, most of farmers are faced with all kinds of challenges impeding the sector's growth and development. Unable to unite, many Kyrgyz farmers are left out of the sales chain and are unable to take part in district procurements. Alone they cannot ensure the volumes required – for instance, the quantity of produce required for school meals.

Another obstacle to taking part in electronic tenders is poor computer literacy among rural residents. On top of that, most local producers have no opportunity to obtain certificates of quality for their produce, as district Sanitary and Epidemiological Service laboratories are poorly equipped, while there is also a lack of well-equipped storage facilities for the crops, and most of the work is done using outmoded agricultural machinery.
This factor and some others are limiting access to the sales market for smallholders. For instance, that is a major concern for farmer Azamat Boskebaev, who grows vegetables, grain crops, corn, barley, and clover.

The farmer confesses today most of the peasant farms in the region have lots of problems that need to be worked through.

"In spring, the seeds are expensive, and there is no uniform seed supplier. The fuel is costly, too. In fall, the prices for produce drop, and that means losses for the farmer".
Head of the Taazhy Women's Association, set up in the region as part of the 'Acceleration of Rural Women's Economic Empowerment in Kyrgyzstan' project, launched jointly by the FAO and the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, Zamira Davletbakova talks about her job with great enthusiasm. She takes pride in the fact that it has been the fourth year in a row now that female members of the Association have been engaged in growing vegetables. In that period, they have achieved a number of decent harvests of tomatoes and cucumbers.

"Of course, our first clients were the members' relatives. A portion of the harvest was left over, and we were unable to find customers for it. Each female member would visit hospitals and schools in an attempt to sell the produce. There is a real need for an organization that would take in the entire harvest and sell it".

Ms Davletbakova is convinced a well-equipped storage facility for vegetables will enable the female farmers to get the work of supplying the schools with ecologically clean vegetables on the right track.

According to Ms Davletbakova, the region also needs a proper lab where to certify produce. "The Chon-Kemin valley grows great potatoes, which could be exported. If we had in place a lab that could check the quality of produce, that would help resolve many of our problems".
About Kemin District
Crop production
Livestock raising
2 013
families live below the poverty line
Kemin area
Orel area
Kichi-Kemin area
Chon-Kemin area
9 266
1 568
Total area
Distance to the capital
Permanent population for 2016
3 533 sq km
Chui District, North of Kyrgyz Republic
95 sq km
45 417 people
National school meals programme
In implementing the program, the national government has received some assistance from the UN World Food Programme, with technical assistance provided by the Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute.

The FAO pilot "School Food and Nutrition Program linked to the Agricultural Sector" started in 2017. The pilot's aim is to increase the effectiveness of the entire process of organizing school feeding, contribute to development of sustainable value chains, and the National School Feeding Program in the Kyrgyz Republic. The pilot has been implemented under the project "Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia". The overall project's objective is to strengthen food security and reduce all forms of malnutrition in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The National School Feeding Program, one of the instruments for the support of the vulnerable people, has been implemented in Kyrgyzstan since 2006.

In 2017, the program underwent significant improvement, and today the schools are offering their junior students hot breakfasts as opposed to just a cup of tea and a bun.
Crop production
Livestock raising
In every school (except for Bishkek and Osh)
2002 year. The Law of the Kyrgyz Republic No. 111 "On the organization of school meals in secondary schools of the Kyrgyz Republic" was adopted.
In 2014, the Concept of the development of the national school feeding program until 2025 was adopted: "The main directions of school feeding development in the Kyrgyz Republic".
2018 year. Development of the project "State Program for the Development of School Meals in the Kyrgyz Republic".
Allocated for 1 student of grades 1-4
In mountainous and remote areas
In Bishkek and Osh city from local budgets
Total amount of state financing (in 2015)
million KGS
thousand students
meals for
million KGS
Salary of kitchen workers
The National School Feeding Programme could become a sustainable sales market for local farmers. School cafeterias are in need of quality vegetables virtually all year round.

In the period 2016–2017 alone, schools within Kemin District needed an estimated 9.2 tons of potatoes, 4.2 tons of carrots, and 2.6 tons of onions. Meals for students also require lots of cabbage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, radish, beet, and garlic.
re-equipped with modern equipment from donor contributions
organize hot meals
Bakay-Ata district (Talas region)
Kemin district (Chui region)
District programs for the development of school meals
School Meals in Kemin
National School Feeding Programme
UN WFP 'School Meals Optimization in the Kyrgyz Republic'
per student per day
3 653
students of 1-4 grades
schools (students of 1-4 grades)
School of
village Ak-Tyuz
a set of technological equipment
for the canteen
Fortified flour
State financing
Parents contributions
KGS per student per day
KGS per student per day
KGS per student per day
School No. 2 in the town of Orlovka in Kemin District is accustomed to overcoming challenges. To enable the school to participate in the school feeding program, the authorities had to turn into a cafeteria the premises of a disused chemistry classroom. Today, hot meals are provided over here to 333 primary-grade students. However, to this day the issue of provision of a consistent supply of produce remains quite a pressing concern.
Up until recently, Kyrgyzstan lacked a convenient, well-structured, efficient, and economically sound mechanism for cooperation between local farmers and schools. The FAO's pilot on setting up the Logistic Center will be the first step in forging meaningful relationships for the benefit of children and rural residents.
"Fresh produce is key in children's meals. It can be fresh only when it is directly from local farms. We do not have warehouses at the school, so we get to buy produce little by little", says Principal Galina Shakun.

Apart from taking care of the freshness of produce, the school must comply with the rules for procurement and invite tenders. According to the principal, the situation with tenders is quite tough at the moment. "No tendering will get someone to bring you milk from Bishkek every day. We have vegetables brought to us through tendering from a store, but we have no idea where they buy them from".
But School No. 2 can breathe a sigh of relief now, as the newly established Logistic Center is now in place to help provide the cafeteria with fresh vegetables grown locally. We are all for cooperating with the Logistic Center, because it is definitely going to benefit our children".
About the FAO's project
The FAO's project "Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia" was launched in 2017.

The project's key objective is to strengthen food security and reduce all forms of malnutrition in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
Crop production
Livestock raising
The logistics center consists of three storage facilities for potatoes, vegetables and other products (90 sq m each)
75% of cargo volume
Each of three storage units is based on three 40 foot sea containers insulated with foam, outside - 50 mm, inside - 100 mm. Material of internal finishing - galvanized iron, outer skin - metal.
Transportation of products to schools will be carried out by an isothermal van with a carrying capacity of 1.2-1.5 tons.
potatoes and
To promptly check the quality
of products supplied for school
feeding, the Logistic Center was
equipped with laboratory.
sq m
Total area of three
storage facilities
One of the project's key areas in Kyrgyzstan is establishment of the Logistic Center for School Feeding in one of the districts of the country.
The pilot project is focused on helping increase the efficiency of the National School Feeding Program through the supply of local produce to schools. The location chosen for the implementation of the ambitious project is Kemin District, located in Chuy Region.
About the Logistic Center
The Logistic Center in Kemin is expected to become a sustainable district provider of local produce for social institutions. For this purpose, it has been fitted out with all relevant equipment, including means of transportation for the delivery of vegetables. In addition, to ensure safety and quality control of delivered products the Center was equipped with the workplace for the laboratory specialist.
The Logistic Center will help reduce transportation, logistical, and administrative costs for farmers, and will handle all of the functions associated with the purchase and delivery of produce. Small scale farmers will now be able to replenish the Center's storehouses with vegetables and fruits right from the field.
A guarantee for the pilot project to be a success is cooperation between the government and the private sector. Entrepreneur Kadyr Kopzhasharov gratuitously contributed a plot of land toward the deployment of the Logistic Center, inclusive of the office and the lab, and had trees and shrubs planted in the surrounding grounds. Mr. Kopzhasharov will oversee the keeping of separate accounting of the Center's expenses and earnings.
"We want to minimize the difference between the prices of vegetables in fall and in spring. We'll do our best not to raise the prices. Local producers won't have to transport their produce to Tokmok or Bishkek – it will be more lucrative for them to sell their crops right over here, with no need to spend extra money on transportation and fuel" - says Mr. Kopzhasharov
Interaction between pilot participants will be coordinated by the Administration of Kemin District. "We'll keep track of tendering activities. Our farmers do not generate large volumes of harvest. Most grow produce on their small plots (most with an area of half a hectare or less), and cannot have it certified. This project should help them a lot", notes Zhumgalbek Duishebaev, Akim of Kemin District in Chuy Region.
Safety as a top priority
Strict requirements for the quality of agricultural produce used to prepare school meals is not a whim but a necessity. Since we're talking about the health of children, and it is definitely something for everyone to take seriously, no school should be expected to accept vegetables for use in its cafeteria if the produce is delivered without proper certification.
Head of Kemin District Center for Disease Prevention and State Sanitary-Epidemiological Surveillance Gul'nara Sydykova relates that until recently there was no lab in Kemin District that could issue that kind of certificates, which used to be an insurmountable barrier to productive cooperation between the schools and farmers.

"We are providing two staff members for work at the lab. The quality of vegetables purchased from local producers will be monitored. We already have in place a set of mechanisms for phytosanitary control and a relevant methodology. Each batch will first be inspected, and only then the produce will be cleared for delivery to the schools, with all relevant documentation attached".
Benefit for all
Proper hot meals are essential for healthy children growth. Healthy eating helps cultivate salutary eating habits and provides one with extra energy for school work. By contrast, poor nutrition may negatively reflect on students' health, compromising their immunity and making them highly vulnerable to disease.
Among the numerous issues of concern to international organizations, including those run by the United Nations, special significance is attached to the issue of low-quality diets among children in educational institutions.

This concern is shared by public authorities in Kyrgyzstan as well. However, putting in place an effective school feeding system is not an easy process — it requires the concerted effort of many participants.
Producers and suppliers of fresh, high-quality agricultural produce can be of invaluable help in this process. Educational institutions can become a sustainable market for small-scale farming enterprises to tap into, which can provide them with steady revenue and help improve the economic situation in the region.
Eventually, the schools will end up obtaining fresh, high-quality produce from farmers. Every day during their school year, school children will have for breakfast and dinner meals prepared with vegetables that have grown in the sunshine of Kyrgyzstan and have imbibed the virtues of the native land.
Russian Federation Funding

This photo-project was prepared by the Social and Industrial Food Service Institute from Moscow (Russian Federation) during the implementation of the pilot «School food and nutrition program linked to the agricultural sector" in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The pilot is a part of the comprehensive project "Developing Capacity for Strengthening Food Security and Nutrition in Selected Countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia" that implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The project seeks to promote cross-sectoral collaboration by providing adequate capacity to effectively pursue and manage coherence between agriculture, nutrition, health, education and social protection sectors. The cooperation comprises support to a wide array of development initiatives at regional and global level.