Pamir Mulberry Presidium, Tajikistan
There still exist pristine places without industry and pollution where people live in harmony with their environment. One of them is the autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan. Though its area (about 65,000 square kilometers) extends over half the country, only 3 percent is habitable. Gorno-Badakhshan is located among the Pamir Mountains, known as the "Roof of the World." The province's few villages are situated in the valleys, along rivers, and the local people cultivate every patch of available land.
Introduced from China via the
Silk Route, the mulberry is perfectly adapted to the difficult mountain environment, where it grows between 1,100 and 2,400 meters above sea level, replacing crops, such as wheat and barley, that cannot grow at these altitudes. According
to the most elderly growers, some of the plants are over a hundred years old. There are more than 60 varieties of mulberry in the Pamir region, the result of centuries of natural selection and adaptation. The fruit can be eaten fresh or turned into jams and syrups the berries can also be eaten dried, whole or ground into pikht, a kind of flour used as a sweetener in tea, fermented milk or sour cream or mixed with ricotta to make a filling for cakes. Mulberries are mainly harvested for family consumption. In the summer families put as many as 20 to 30 sacks of dried mulberries aside as a reserve for the winter. During the Second World War and the extended civil war that afflicted the country until 1997, mulberries provided the main source of nutrition for the local population.
The community of Khorog mulberry growers and producers that formed the Presidium has been part of the Terra Madre network since 2004. The Presidium currently unites 23 women from two districts within the autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan. Its main objective is to protect the Pamir tradition of eating mulberries, which has been dying out in recent years because of the spread of industrial products. The Presidium will provide the producers with the equipment needed to gather, dry and preserve the berries.
- Draft a production protocol for the Presidium
- Produce the packaging for mulberry products
- Obtain the food-safety authorizations needed to sell the product from the relevant authorities
- Organize training to improve the care of the mulberry trees and product quality
- Produce promotional material about the product and distribute locally and nationally
Shughnon and Rushon districts, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province
Families of the producers (around 200 people)
Total estimated costs