Forests make important contributions to safeguarding agricultural production, food security and nutrition of rural and urban populations. The walnut-fruit forests in Kyrgyzstan constitute a unique resource in this regard. Simultaneously, they are of global importance as a biodiversity hotspot. However, current patterns of forest management are unsustainable, large parts of the forest are over-aged and benefits derived from these forests are unequally distributed among local populations. Walnut (Juglans regia L.) kernels have traditionally been used for human diets and constitute an economically important product of these forests. In addition, these forests are home of many further plant species the fruits and other parts of which are suitable for human consumption. However, their potential is currently not fully exploited, as marketing channels and processing facilities for these products are not developed and a number of research gaps remain. Adding value to such products can contribute to improved food security, raise incomes of local smallholder farmers and thus create incentives for more sustainable forest management.
The aim of the project is to contribute to the development of nutritious food from wild plant species (fruit trees, shrubs, herbs) of Kyrgyz walnut forest ecosystems. This will contribute to local food security, the sustainable management of these natural resources and the development of new sources of income for the local population. At the same time, the establishment of a network for the implementation of long-term, interdisciplinary and application-oriented research on these topics is a major goal of the current project.
The SUSWALFOOD project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The total project budget is ca. 150,000 EUR, project duration is 24 month. The project consortium consists of 11 partners from Germany, Central Asia and the Czech Republic.