So what's the problem?
The people of Afghanistan have had a difficult time over the last few decades. Political instability and a weak economy, coupled with times of drought, have led to isolated rural areas falling into poverty. 80% of Afghanistan’s population are dependant on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihood. Many families have reverted to subsistence farming and it is common for the males to supplement their family’s income with seasonal labouring. These conditions have also seen farmers turning to the illegal cultivation of opium poppies. During the past few years the new Afghanistan Government has worked with the Aga Khan Development Network to address these problems and start rebuilding the economy. However, despite some good progress, there are still areas that need attention.
What is this project doing?
The Aga Khan Development Network has brought in CABI to help change the agricultural system by using modern knowledge and technology. New varieties of crops that are less susceptible to pests and disease will be introduced. This, coupled with safe and sustainable crop protection techniques, will help decrease the amount of pesticides used. Techniques to improve soil quality, reduce soil erosion and to use water and energy more efficiently will also be taught. It is important that the new system is sustainable, this means that people from the local agricultural community will play an active role in teaching and overseeing the new techniques allowing benefits to extend beyond the length of the project. Classes will be given in various rural communities; attending farmers will be encouraged to contribute their own knowledge and opinions to help develop the new techniques to suit them and the local environmental conditions. The ability to sell the produce will be improved by re-establishing links to the market place.
Results so far
During the first year of the project CABI has begun by setting up projects in Badakhshan and Takhar. These areas have a history based on food production and so are known as Afghanistan’s bread basket, between them they have a variety of climatic conditions. The focus will be on fruit orchards and vegetable gardens. Fruit is a valuable export crop, whilst vegetables are a vital to the diets of these rural communities. It is common for men to work with the fruit orchards and women to take care of the kitchen gardens.
Address: Opposite 1-A, Data Gunj Baksh Road, Satellite Town, P.O. Box 8, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
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