Training for AGOS

As a follow-up of a small project funded by UNDP and GEF a large group of students from the President’s Academy in Tashkent visited ZEF/UNESCO Khorezm project and NGO KRASS on October 29-30. For the past months ZEF, KRASS and UrDU have been elaborating a training module for the President’s Academy on ‘State management of environmental protection’, covering 12 topics such as: global climate change and its impact in Uzbekistan, ecological stability and security in Uzbekistan, ecological management, ecological culture of the population, modern methods in environmental management. Students had a chance to listen to the presentations on ecologically sound options for improving land and water use in the lower reaches of the Amudarya river and took several field trips to watch these options taking place.

The main goal for ZEF and KRASS was to raise awareness among high level stakeholders and future decision-makers (graduates of the President’s Academy) on the activities, results and innovations of the ZEF/UNESCO project and to create options for future collaboration.

The event was successful since it ignited vivid discussions and interest in students. Moreover, KRASS and UrDU were invited to hold the same lectures for other groups of students at the President’s Academy and possibly at other universities in Uzbekistan.


October 20-22, 2010 Urgench, Uzbekistan

From October 20-22, the ZEF/UNESCO project in Uzbekistan co-hosted the first symposium on Agricultural Service Provision in Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union in Uzbekistan. The symposium was hosted together with GTZ Uzbekistan (main funder), the NGO KRASS and the State University in Urgench, Khorezm. The participants came from Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, the Netherlands, and Germany. They exchanged their experiences to support farmers in adapting to the new agro-ecological, socio-political and economic conditions after independence from the Soviet Union. The new class of land users – private farmers emerging in the Central Asian Countries - have hardly been prepared for their tasks to run a farm enterprise. The objectives of the symposia therefore were

• To bring together different organizations from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that have working knowledge and practical experience in agricultural extension provision;

• To exchange knowledge and experience in the set-up of agricultural extension organizations;

• To use the concerted knowledge for developing starting points for a pilot agricultural extension scheme;

• To exchange views on the establishment of a network of extension service providers with potential links to other research and education networks for development.

The 45 participants decided that this initiative must have a follow up in various forms. Not only to conduct a second symposia in 2011 with a focus on for instance monitoring and evaluation, but also to lay the foundation for setting up an agricultural extension network and linking with existing networks in the field of agricultural research (for instance CACAARI) and extension (e.g. GFRAS). More information can be obtained via e-mail at:

Developing capacity in the fields of GIS and remote sensing

The State University of Urgench (UrDU) in Uzbekistan organized a workshop in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques and remote sensing methodology for University staff from August 24 to September 3, 2010. The workshop took place in Urgench and was organized in cooperation with the ZEF/UNESCO Khorezm project based in Urgench and the University of Würzburg, Germany.

This so-called “training of the trainers” course was a kick-off event for enhancing the GIS and remote sensing skills of University staff - mainly from UrDU, but also from the Agrarian University in Tashkent. Among the 15 participants were geographers, social scientists, and economists. They will use their new knowledge to extend the current Bsc. and Msc. programs at their universities and establish a new center of competence for GIS and Remote Sensing in Uzbekistan.

The intensive training course in Urgench focused on modern GIS techniques and remote sensing methodology and their application within ecology, economics and agricultural sciences. Two scientists affiliated with the ZEF/UNESCO project, Gunther Schorcht and Fabian Loew (both from the University of Würzburg in Germany), were teaching the 15 participants in using GIS software in combination with remotely sensed satellite data. There were theoretical lessons combined with practical exercises. A strong emphasis was put on the practical part, including an analysis of data collected by the ZEF/UNESCO project and the faculties of UrDU. The highlight of the workshop was a competition among teams in presenting a common project. The best project teams were awarded. All participants received a certificate.

The ZEF/UNESCO project in Urgench is a long-term scientific project which focuses on improving natural resource management in the region. This is being done in close cooperation with local partners such as UrDU. Developing regional and human capacity is a  major goal of the German-Uzbek project.

World Environment Day 2010 in Urgench, Uzbekistan

On June 5, 2010 the ZEF/UNESCO project in Uzbekistan organized an event on the occasion of World Environment Day in collaboration with its partners at the State University Urgench. This day was initiated in 1972 by the United Nations to raise worldwide awareness on the environment and call for local and global actions.

The invited journalists, general public and students in Urgench were offered a series of small theatre and presentations performed by the different departments and faculties of the University reflecting their views and concerns on the environment and sharing these with the audience. Other departments of the University exhibited group and individual arts works on the occasion of World Environment Day. Some of these magnificent arts works were prepared in advance but some were designed during the day, so the public could get an insight of how arts works are created. The ZEF project exhibited several environment oriented innovations for water saving, effective resources use and rapid soil salinity management for the benefit of the environment and farming population.

A committee consisting of five people (from the local NGO KRASS, ZEF, and UrDU) awarded certificates and prices for three categories generously made available by UNESCO - Tashkent.

The ZEF/UNESCO project also accepted an invitation of UNDP to participate and contribute to the World Environment Day celebrations in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.

With the successful organization and implementation of this day, the project and its partner consortium (UNESCO, UrDU and KRASS) hope to have set an additional beacon for improving the environment directly in their study region as well as, in collaboration with its partners, contribute to a nationwide awareness raising about environmental issues.

ZEF/UNESCO project at the Uzbek parliament

On May 21, the ZEF/UNESCO project in Uzbekistan was invited by the permanent committee on Agrarian and Water Issues from Uzbekistan’s Parliament (Oliy Majis) and the national farmers' Association (represented by Mr. T. Bazarov), the Ministry for Agriculture and Water Resources (represented by Deputy Minister Prof. Sh. Nurmatov) to present and discuss selected innovations stemming from the project research. The meeting gathered 20 members of the Parliament (from four parties plus the National Environmental Movement), about 20 scientists from national research organisations and educational institutions, and about 25 farmers and the Head of the Farmers' Association in Uzbekistan.

The meeting was initiated, jointly organized and headed by Prof A. Ergashev, a part time senior policy advisor to ZEF and UNESCO in Tashkent, whereas various senior project members presented summaries of the research results. The meeting was conducted as an activity under Work Package 121 of the Uzbekistan project.

Given the granted time, the project limited its presentations to the use of the EM-38, as an alternative means to rapidly map soil salinity in the rooting zone, the afforesting of marginal, salt-affected cropland with selected species in the irrigated areas for increasing eco-system services and rendering the cropland productive again, improved options for crop management and sustainable land use (including the laser guided land-levelling and the principles of conservation agriculture) and the introduction of the leguminous Indigofera tinctoria L. as a potential cash crop for both marginal and fertile croplands. Eminent Uzbek scientists shared their views and thoughts on the presentations. Furthermore, during these discussions the project was invited to present selected findings at the Soil Science Faculty of the State University of Agriculture.

At the closure of the meeting was considered as a success and a set of recommendations was formulated including a recommendation to the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources and the national Farmers' Association to assess the suitability of the four presented project innovations for a regional and nation-wide implementation. With this decision the Government of Uzbekistan has made an official and clear commitment regarding its intentions to the implementation of project findings also beyond phase III and IV of the ZEF/UNESCO project in Uzbekistan.

Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan visits ZEF

On May 20, 2010 the Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan, His Excellency Dilshod Akhatov and his first Secretary Mr. Mavlon Mamirov visited ZEF in Bonn. They were welcomed by ZEF Directors Prof. Joachim von Braun and Prof. Solvay Gerke and Dr. Ahmad Manschadi, scientific coordinator of the ZEF/Uzbekistan Project. Several scientists from the Uzbekistan Project also attended the meeting.

In his welcome speech Prof. von Braun emphasized the excellent scientific collaboration between Uzbek Universities and ZEF and pointed at the successful cooperation leading to the participation of about 30 highly talented Uzbek students in ZEF's Doctoral Program over the years. Prof. Gerke acknowledged the excellent collaboration between Uzbek and German partners in the Uzbekistan Project and emphasized the need for strengthening the social sciences at universities in Uzbekistan.

Mr. Akhatov thanked ZEF for its efforts and engagement in the area of sustainable land and water management within the framework of BMBF-funded project in the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan. He highly appreciated the ZEF involvement in the training and education of more than 100 Master and PhD students from Uzbekistan since 2002. Mr. Akhatov highlighted the fact that the Uzbekistan project is one of the most important research projects in his country and pointed out the interest of Uzbekistan in future cooperation with ZEF in other regions of Uzbekistan. Mr. Akhatov also stressed the interest in strengthening the technological and industrial base of the country and establishing cooperation in university partnerships, such as a joint higher-degree educational institution in the area of agriculture and natural resource management in Uzbekistan.

In a fruitful discussion about strategic development issues with the visitors Prof. von Braun stressed that in addition to technological improvements, a key factor for sustainable development of Uzbekistan will also be institutional reforms and decentralization of decision making, such as related to farmers’ and other business sectors’ production and market decisions. Historically, this has been a root of success in countries such as Switzerland and Germany.

Dr. Manschadi and the ZEF scientists involved in the Uzbekistan project reported on the core activities of the project and highlighted some interdisciplinary innovative concepts and technologies that have the potential to conserve natural resources and increase the productivity of the agricultural sector in the Khorezm region.


Mr. Akhatov thanked ZEF and the scientists in the Uzbekistan Project for their long-term engagement in Uzbekistan and invited them to attend a round table discussion at the Uzbek Embassy in Berlin later this year.

Symposium on "Developing Agenda for Land & Water Management in Uzbekistan" - Tashkent, March 11, 2010

The ZEF/UNESCO project in Uzbekistan project organized a symposium on “Developing Agenda for Land & Water Management in Uzbekistan” for the international financial institutions in Tashkent on March 11, 2010. The aim of the symposium was to present the crux of project’s research results and policy recommendations to the international donor community.

The symposium was inaugurated by the Deputy Head of the German embassy in Tashkent and attended by, among others, representatives of World Bank (IBRD), Asia Development Bank (ADB), German Technical cooperation (GTZ), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Organization for Security of Central and Eastern Europe (OSCE), Israeli Agency for cooperation (Mashav), Europa House, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Center for Agriculture in Dry Areas (ICARDA). It is expected that many of the recommendations will influence the agricultural development agenda of Uzbekistan as the symposium deliberations relate to the Uzbekistan’s welfare improvement strategy of 2008-2010.

The program of the symposium can be downloaded from » here