These days, farmers - owners of household plots and hotbeds of the Kanlykul district, Karakalpakstan – receive informational support through a group in Telegram without leaving their home. The specialists of the Extension Center, which was established with the technical support of the UN Development Program in Uzbekistan, help them to do so.

In 2018, UNDP jointly with Uzhydromet, with financial assistance from the Adaptation Fund of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, launched three centers for the provision of information and consulting services to farmers and dekhkans of the northern region of the country. Masterclasses and workshops on the use of various technologies of agro and water conservation, increasing land productivity, as well as the introduction of innovative agricultural production practices are constantly held here. Work is ongoing in the days of self-isolation due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.

- We did not expect that even in the days of quarantine our services would be in such high demand. So, at the request of farmers of the Kanlykul district, we created a group in Telegram. Among the most active subscribers are 87 people – farm managers and householders, volunteers and those who are interested in agricultural sector news. We are constantly consulting on issues that interest them, says Sabit Sadykov, head of the information and consultation center in the Kanlykul district of Karakalpakstan.

In addition to guidance materials and office equipment, the centers were provided with various equipment and tools for determining the concentration of chemical elements in the soil, identifying the optimal composition and mode of fertilizer application.

- For a short period, answering various questions from our audience, we managed to conduct a series of master classes, demonstrating work processes in various accessible formats. Thus, 623 photos, 155 video clips have already been captured, 55 information documents and dozens of audio messages have been prepared. We also learn a lot from the group members – experts of various specializations. Some of them, with the acquisition of their greenhouses and personal plots, have recently acquired new skills and knowledge. We have a clear work plan, but often we have to deviate from the schedule, because there is an increasing number of questions and tasks, and it takes a lot of time to find a competent, complete solution, tells Sabit Sadykov.

Among the topics discussed in the group, the most popular are:

 

The center's staff consists of specialists such as an agronomist, engineer, economist, accountant and lawyer. Sometimes, in order to find answers, one has to turn to experts in the field of soil science, as well as to those who in practice have studied various approaches to working with saline soil and successfully apply them in particularly difficult climatic conditions of the northern region.

The center is equipped with mobile sensors, which allow measuring the temperature profile and moisture reserves in the soil to a depth of 1 m. In addition, since recently, it uses innovative technology that minimizes the influence of soil salinity on the measurement data. In the future, it is expected to expand the range of services provided, based on growing demand and the desire of the local population to study new technologies and approaches in the work of the agricultural sector.