Akmat Osmonovich (pictured)
Rural Service Provider
An ingenious plan to provide a remote community in Kyrgyzstan with fish has helped inhabitants fight malnutrition and ward off anaemia, rickets and other diseases.
Five years ago, in the village of Ak-Tektir Cholpon-Ata ayil okmotu — a remote mountain community in Kyrgyzstan — malnutrition was rife. The result? Anaemia in young women and children was on the increase, and new-borns were developing cases of rickets and other diseases.
The idea that brought nutrition to the remote community
On paper the solution was simple, says local Akmat Osmonovich: all residents needed to do was make fish a regular part of their diet. “Fish meat contains a lot of the nutrients that can fight malnutrition, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins A, D, B1, B2, B12 and minerals,” he notes. “It’s good for the brain, thyroid gland, skin and mucous membranes, and nervous and digestive systems, plus it regulates blood sugar, improves vision and prevents children’s diseases such as rickets.”
The obvious problem, however, is that sources of fish are not readily available in these areas. So Akmat had the ingenious idea of establishing fish ponds to provide the missing nutrients his rural community so desperately needed.
Akmat’s plan was made a reality in 2016 with support from IFOAM – Organics International and in cooperation with Bio Service Public Foundation — a Central Asian non-profit company involved in rural development — which supported the purchase of 1,500 fry (recently hatched fish) for breeding. Up to now, more than 100 farmers have been supported to start raising fish in ponds and the plan is to expand these types of fisheries in the south of Kyrgyzstan, giving the population stable access to food.
How education is key to improving the nutrition of the community
“Fish farming is an innovation for residents,” says Akmat. “Fish feed — corn, barley and wheat — is grown by ourselves, since imported feed contains an admixture of growth stimulants. The fish in the ponds are raised naturally, and the fish meat is beneficial and will improve the nutrition of the community.”
Akmat has also worked with schools and local health committees to disseminate information about the benefits of eating fish. “It is important to provide education to improve nutrition and prevent various diseases,” he says. “By education, we influence communities to choose healthy food, since nowadays young people are inclined to consume fast foods and soda drinks.”
The fish in the ponds are raised naturally, and the fish meat is beneficial and will improve the nutrition of the community.
Plus, villagers have begun to grow fruits and vegetables organically, without synthetic pesticides, growth regulators or any other chemical inputs. “This means that nutritional properties remain unchanged, the taste is natural, and the benefits to the body are enormous,” says Akmat. “Optimal nutrition is critical to the villagers’ health, wellbeing and social development, as well as to the economic growth of communities and countries, and the wellbeing of future generations.”