Over its three years, more than 102,000 citizens took advantage of the USAID Land Reform Project.
Addressing the underlying causes of malnutrition and poverty is an integral part of President Barack Obama’s signature foreign aid program, Feed the Future. The first step is to identify the causes of undernutrition and food insecurity.
In the case of Tajikistan, a former Soviet Republic that gained its independence in December 1991, the lack of individual land ownership and property rights were deemed to be a crucial barrier to agricultural production and increased investment. Thus, land reform, along with a new land code and progressive property laws, would go a long way toward improving Tajikistan’s agricultural output.
So, in 2010, the United States launched the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID Land Reform Project, a three-year effort to support Tajikistan to privatize farms; strengthen and protect farmers’ land use rights; and develop a market in land use rights-- through technical assistance and training.
Through the USAID Land Reform Project, the United States also worked with the Government of Tajikistan to develop the solid legal and regulatory framework needed to implement land reforms, and to support the necessary progressive land and ownership legislation. In short, USAID and the government of Tajikistan worked very hard to lay down the groundwork that will encourage the most productive and efficient long-term use of land.
At the same time, USAID launched a publicity campaign to inform farmers of their land rights; provided them with legal assistance when needed; and offered technical training on land rights issues to local government officials, judges, public prosecutors, and defense advocates.
Over the three years of its operation, more than 102,000 citizens took advantage of various forms of assistance offered by the USAID Land Reform Project.
On January 24th, the three year term of the USAID Land Reform Project ended. The occasion was marked by a celebration in the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, and the program’s many successes were discussed.
“Land reform is essential for the development of the agricultural sector, and the security of land use rights is critical for the development of this sector,” said U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan Susan Elliott. “When farmers have confidence in the security of their land rights they are willing to make long-term investments that will increase land productivity and profitability.”