From a landfill to a greenhouse: a story of transformation

Jan 3, 2018

A local farmer has managed to eliminate a landfill in the center of the village of Jylkeldi (Ak-Tash aiyl okmotu, Kara-Suu district, Osh region) and built a greenhouse on this spot with a total area of 770 square meters.

What exquisitely juicy tomatoes and cucumbers have grown a resident of the village of Jylkeldi Syrbek Sali in his new greenhouse! Every morning Syrbek with other greenhouse workers starts his day taking a tour of the greenhouse, pulling out weeds and connecting drip irrigation system that entails reduced water consumption. Syrbek enjoys his work and now the greenhouse is pleasing with its results. Putting a lot of effort in it was not in vain. However, the story began differently.

There used to be a silage pit in the very center of Zhylkeldi village. For years it had been filling with garbage and was in an unhygienic state. Eventually, the dump in the silage pit had grown to 1000 square meters and began to approach the nearby yards of the houses. The villagers excused themselves by saying that they had nowhere else to throw out the garbage, while the local authorities keep complaining about lack of equipment and financial resources for garbage disposal. This unsolved issue was lowering trust of the population towards the local government solution to the issue caused resentment and a decrease in confidence in local authorities.

Thoughts about his native land, the unreasonable use of land and the rude attitude to nature led Syrbek to the idea that something must be changed. That is how an idea of cleaning the site and building a greenhouse there appeared. "Every time when I went to the mosque I looked at this landfill on my way and thought about how to clean it out. After all, our children play in all this dirt where infections are spread. So, in 2011, I applied to local government through the public foundation “Birimdik Ak-Tash” with a request to sell me this piece of land on which the former silage pit was located. For my family and friends, it sounded like a very absurd idea, they could not believe that I decided to "waste my money in a landfill". The idea to build a greenhouse there came to me after buying the land and clearing it", says Syrbek.

Everyone knows that the construction of a greenhouse is not easy and a quite costly job. Although Syrbek invested all his savings to implement his project, he came across with some financial difficulties, and he began to look for an opportunity to receive a grant. That is when he found the opportunity to apply for the UNDP project «Aid For Trade” funded by the Government of Finland, which had allocated about 10,000 USD.

Community mobilization and public awareness activities were carried out to solve the environmental problem of the village and the pit was cleared out. To ensure the further safe cultivation of crops on the site, the land was covered with more than 35 cubes of black-earth soil. Due to the peculiarities of the land plot, Syrbek chose to cultivate more or less traditional for the region tomatoes and cucumbers. Further, he installed a drip irrigation system. Moreover, the greenhouse had created five new job places for young people from the low-income families.

"In the beginning, I had no faith at all in that my husband’s idea could work. Well, just think, everyone is eager to buy nice and clean land, but he buys a landfill. Everyone looks at the places that are more plane, but he takes the pit – I had a terrible indignation.” – remembers Syrbek’s wife Anara.

With the improvement of the ecological situation in the village, people's attitude to the problem of preserving natural resources has changed. "Many neighbors are grateful for the initiative of supporting ecology in the village. I am no longer alone who actively works with local authorities to solve the waste problem and develop a proper management system in this direction,” - says Syrbek.

For sure, Syrbek has not lost. The farmer can be proud of himself for not only expanding his business but also for contributing to the environment of the village. He is an example of diligence and faith in his work.


Mavliuda Khodzhaeva, UNDP PR/Communications Specialist, Osh/Batken Area-Based Development  Programme


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