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In a pickle no more

Tajikistan, October 14, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Clay Westrope/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Madieva Hadischa holding a jar of preserves at her home in Chkalov village, Tajikistan. Photo: Clay Westrope/Mercy Corps

Madieva Hadischa sits on a tapchan, or tea bed, in the central courtyard of her home in Chkalov village with a veritable feast strewn behind her and the warm autumn sun illuminating the designs on her long traditional dress. She knows, however, that the sun will soon no longer be warm and with the cold will come a lack of crops that the Tajik cuisine relies on, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.

For years, Madieva and the eight members of her family have had to rely on the meager crops available during the winter and what they were able to preserve from the autumn harvest. Not only were the yields from these crops lower, but they do not constitute the necessary ingredients for traditional Tajik meals. Madieva explains that, “Before, most of the food that we tried to preserve would spoil. We would lose nearly half of our stored food during the winter due to unreliable preservation.”

In an effort to curb this trend, Mercy Corps has organized trainings — such as the one that Madieva attended in many villages in this southern frontier of Tajikistan. These trainings aim to teach improved methods of food preservation to ensure lasting food security and diversity through the winter months.

With a smile on her face, Madieva continues to praise the trainings, saying that, “I found the training so useful that I gathered together 11 of my friends from surrounding villages and taught them the new methods I had learned.”

Madieva brings out some of the more than 80 jars of food that she has preserved so far. With some of her children at her side, she says confidently, “I now don’t have to worry about whether there will be a choice of food to prepare during the winter.”

As the cooler months begin to set in, Madieva and the scores of other women who now have the skills to reliably preserve food have many things to worry about, but what their family will eat is not one of them.