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TRADITIONAL PASTURE MANAGEMENT APPROACHES - THE HERITAGE OF OUR ANCESTORS.
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 TRADITIONAL PRACTICES FOR THE USE OF PASTURES - THE HERITAGE OF OUR ANCESTORS.

The National pasture users’ Association of Kyrgyzstan “Kyrgyz Jayity” celebrated its third anniversary this year. During this period, the organization trained pasture users on new methods of using pastures through the introduction of best modern practices, conduct of seminars, round tables, trainings and exchange of experience in building the capacity of pasture committees. To date, many pasture committees are actively working. There are still some of the committees that are lagging behind for some reasons. The Association works with such committees in order to determine the reasons of the backlog and provide recommendations on enhancement. As a result, there were positive cases of growth of the potential of the off-track committees, and they even overtook the advanced committees. The “Kyrgyz Jayity” provides the committees with the project opportunities through organization of active trainings.  

      

All international organizations working with pastures are demonstrating today the value of the traditional methods in the use of pastures. The use of the traditional pasture management practices is achieving good results in countries such as Mongolia, Pakistan and Indonesia.  There is a high potential for using the traditional pasture management practices in Kyrgyzstan as well. During the period of the planned economy in the Soviet era, the traditional methods in the use of pastures began to disappear. And after the declaration of independence of our country, before the adoption of the law "On pastures", there was no management system in the pastures but the private economy. The law "On pastures" was of great importance in order to exclude such negative phenomena. More than that, in order to further improve and enhance the pasture management, the Association “Kyrgyz Jayity” appealed to the Christensen Fund with a suggestion to include the three pasture committees of our republic in the pilot project "The revival of the traditional practices in the use of pastures". The Christensen Fund approved the proposal. This project is being implemented today in the Bel-Aldy pasture users union (PUU) in Tokogul district, the Zherg –Tal PUU in Naryn district and the PUU in Zheti-Oguz.

On May 17, 2018 a workshop on studying the traditional practices was held in the Bel-Aldy PUU in Tokogul district. In order to exchange experience, the following participants were at the workshop: the Public Union Bel-Aldy, so-called as "Pasture Council", the members of the women group "Merry Grandmothers", the head of the ayil okmotu, the representatives of the Lipenka village in the Zheti-Oguz district of the Issyk-Kul oblast, the director general of the National pasture users’ Association of Kyrgyzstan “Kyrgyz Jayity”, A.A. Egemberdiev, specialists of the Association, professor of the Kyrgyz-Turkish University "Manas", R.S. Sarlikov.

The seminar included such topics as traditional practices of economical use of pastures, traditional practices for determining the quality and value of pastures and ways to improve them, measures to improve the condition of pastures, traditional methods of grazing cattle, and specific approaches in summer, winter, autumn and spring grazing. The director general of the National pasture users’ Association of Kyrgyzstan “Kyrgyz Jayity”, A.A. Egemberdiev in his opening speech explained that the three pilot pastures were selected within the project according to the number of traditional pasture practices used and their interrelationship with pasture users. Then, Professor of the Kyrgyz-Turkish University "Manas" Ruslan Salykovich Salykov gave a lecture to the participants.  In order to maintain the quality of pastures our ancestors  often resettled, collected the seeds of grasses and planted the crops in different pastures, watered pastures and cleaned of debris, disposed poisonous plants, hunted predators to control the average number, cleaned the springs, and paved roads for the cattle. Professor shared with us a lot of information on the seasonal grazing, and he emphasized the necessity of timely and extensive use of traditional practices and skills of our ancestors. Due to climate change it is important to protect our pastures from degradation and desiccation. Each nation collected its own knowledge for centuries. This helped them to live in harmony with nature. Our ancestors lived a nomadic way of life and, as consequence, created historical traditions of careful use of pastures as the main resource of wealth in nomadic communities.

After the lecture the floor was given to the participants of the seminar. For example, Toktogaraeva Tazhikan, who worked as a shepherd in youth, shared her experience and told her story about careful use of pastures, sheep breeding without usage of dogs, but goats instead. Goats were very useful for the shepherds. The goat remembered all the roads, time and direction of grazing, at times it could change the direction of grazing. With its excellent instinct, it prevents the attacks of predators by leading the cattle to a safe place. The goats were significantly useful in grazing the cattle to distant pastures - said the old woman Tajikan. In summer, the sheep heap up, hide their heads one by one and stand in one place. In such cases, the role of goats is critical. The shepherd lets the goat go ahead, and the whole herd follows it. According to this, it is necessary to use goats in grazing sheep in pastures as a traditional practice.

Speakers of this seminar noted that it is necessary to change pastures often. For example, in Bel-Aldy the Tuzduk pasture is considered as spring-autumn pasture. The pastoralists stay here for 20-25 days and only then they resettle to the distant Tor Borteke pasture. And this has already become a tradition. When it gets cold on the Tor-Borteke pasture, the cattlemen return back down to the Tuzduk. During the summer the grass grows back in the meadows.

On this autumn pasture the livestock gains weight in 20-25 days. Then, after grazing on the Bokso pasture for about 15-20 days, the cattle breeders resettle closer to their villages. In this period the pasture restores during spring and summer. The shepherds stay at this pasture until the first snow and then move to the winter pastures such as Keeshen , Orobashy-Bulak. In this period the grass on the pasture grows again and throws the seeds. Such grass provides required weight of the cattle in the winter. There is a possibility to create conditions for the growth of grass and avoid drying pastures using often rotation of pastures and reducing the number of livestock, - said the old woman Tazhikan. As it is seen in the example, traditional methods in the use of pastures are applied and preserved well in Bel-Aldy. We shall achieve the adoption of these methods throughout the country.

The next speaker, Zhazdookan Satysheva told about training activities of the team “Merry grandmothers” conducted for young generation within the project "Revival of the traditional practices in the use of pastures".  

It was also said that grazing of cattle in pastures in the early spring harmed sprouting herbs. After this, the chairman of the "Pasture Council" organization, Baken Ibrayev expressed his gratitude to the Association “Kyrgyz Jayity”and its leaders for the introduction of knowledge and practices of traditional use of pastures.

Then and now, our people use pastures to improve their lives. In conditions of the market economy, people forgot about preserving pastures and began to think only of their own profit. After the meeting with the specialists of the “Kyrgyz Jayity”, the "Pasture Council" organization was created. Aksakals with knowledge of traditional use of pastures became members of the organization. A decision to release the Bor-Teke pasture was made by this organization in 2018; thereby the first step towards preservation of pastures was made.

The Chairman of the Bel-Aldy pasture committee, U.Maralbaev said that together with the head of ayil okmotu they visited Panfilov district of Chui oblast and concluded a contract at the level of regional associations for the long-term use of 5000 hectares of land in the Suusamyr valley. In addition, he told about their activity aimed at cleaning pastures from garbage. He also noted that the “Kyrgyz Jayity” is doing a great job in this direction by taking the use of pastures under control and advancing its prestige and culture.

The next speaker, Zh.Tashpolotov said that the exchange of experience brings huge benefits, as well as underlined the importance of the round table organized by the “Kyrgyz Jayity” on March 30 in Bishkek. He admitted it became an impulse for the introduction of forgotten traditional practices in the use of pastures. In addition, he informed that they developed a plan of summer activities for pasture users and that the purpose of these activities is the introduction, training and reveal of the meanings of forgotten traditions. He also noted the importance of the pilot project and expressed gratitude to the Christensen Fund for the support provided to the Association “Kyrgyz Jayity” in their efforts in restoration of traditional practices.

The summer period in the pastures was a time of holidays for our ancestors. Therefore, we need to rebuild the best traditions of the rational use of pastures through conduct of cultural events - said the director general of the National Association "Kyrgyz Jayity".