MEET TEMUR: STRUGGLE AND HOPE IN RURAL ABKHAZIA
Temur Jinjolia delicately caresses his seedlings. He candidly concedes that the production is not large at the moment, but any small addition to the family’s income is essential. He grows cucumber and tomato seedlings and sells them to neighbours or people from the villages around Pichori in Abkhazia. In a good month, he sells up to 80 plants.
Seedlings are only a side-business for this resourceful father of three. Since he received agricultural machinery and tools from Action Against Hunger as part of a UNHCR-funded project, the business has significantly improved in his farm. However, memory of hard times is still fresh in his mind.
Although he was born with a disability that has always limited his mobility, it has never affected his ability to work on his farm. For years, he worked tirelessly on his land to grow maize, vegetables and hazelnut. Despite the small size of the farm, he managed to produce enough for his family. He used to conserve some of the vegetables for the winter season and sold the extras, especially the precious hazelnuts, in local markets or to wholesale buyers. "It was not much, but we had food for self-consumption."
Things changed dramatically with the arrival of the invasive pest, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), that has attacked his crops. Abruptly, and many times per year, the family was left without sufficient food-stocks. Like many other farmers in the region, he helplessly witnessed his hazelnut harvest dropping to an insignificant amount. The highest price was paid by his three children, the most vulnerable members of the family, who regularly fell ill, worrying their parents about their health. With no money from the market and no crops in the field, Temur resigned himself to ask various organisations for help.
In late 2018, he and his family were selected by Action Against Hunger to be supported along with other vulnerable rural households in Gali district. Action Against Hunger procured and distributed agricultural inputs and other types of in-kind support to 54 farming households. Temur requested and received a two-wheel tractor, a grass trimmer, a spraying machine, a pruner, a garden cart, seeds and fertiliser for his land. "Now, every activity in the field requires less time and effort to be completed, and I also feel the quality of my products has improved." Known in the local community as a skilful and hardworking person, he transformed the two-wheel tractor to act as a means of transportation which was of great help for him given his physical disability. Encouraged by the material he received, in his spare time, he also built a small greenhouse in his garden, where his seedlings can grow with protection from the weather and where he can combat the impact of the BMSB. Previously he had struggled to cultivate every corner of his small plot, but now, not only is he able to use it all, but he has also obtained additional land free of charge. As a result, his wife has returned to the market place to sell their excess vegetables. Moreover, Temur has found a further way of income offering to the neighbourhood his services for mechanised ploughing, weeding and other agricultural works.
"I am really happy with the support I received, thanks to Action Against Hunger and UNHCR as I am now practising modern agriculture! However, I do not want to stop here, I will further diversify my crops and means of income, and I will try to obtain more equipment to expand the harvest," Temur says. And as he points between the cart and the greenhouse he has built, it does not take much of an effort to believe him.
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