Nangarhar, September 29, 2020 - Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL)/UNDP Afghanistan’s Community Based Agriculture and Rural Development (CBARD) project distributed a total of 640 toolkits to orchard owners from six target districts in Nangarhar. The event was inaugurated by the Provincial Governor of Nangarhar, Mr. Ziaulhaq Amarkhil and Mr. Inamullah Safi, Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL).
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Amarkhil praised CBARD’s efforts and contributions towards improved and increasingly effective agricultural practices in Nangarhar province. "I urge farmers to make optimal use of the toolkits and contribute positively towards the development of the country’s agriculture sector."
Farmers were provided with a complete set of tools sufficient to fulfill most of the tasks involved in the cultivation process and harvesting of fruits grown in the orchards. All items procured were of the best quality and came along with a lifetime warranty.
The kit included the following tools:
- Pruning Shear (small)
- Harvesting shear (small)
- Pruning Saw
- Harvesting Bag
- Harvesting Baskets - 4
- Aluminum Ladder
- Protective Suit
The protective suit included the following items:
- Protective gown
- Rubber Boots
- Power-Lug outsole
- Rubber Gloves
- Safety Glasses
- Double-filter Face Mask
Project beneficiaries expressed their gratitude to the project and vowed to make good use of the toolkit for growing and maintaining their orchards.
Mohammad Asif, one of the beneficiaries from Bar-Kalakhil village in Khogyani district, said “We used to cultivate opium poppies but the annual harvest would earn us a minimal income. Now that CBARD has planted a citrus (lemon) orchard for us on 0.2 hectare land, I’m confident that when the trees get to fruition, the profit will be twice that of the poppy."
"Moreover, while I wait for the trees to bear fruit, I can cultivate three inter-crops of vegetables in the orchard every year, which is a good source of additional income for us”.
Since CBARD’s inception in 2018, improving existing orchards and cultivating new ones has been one of the prime activities of the project in all three provinces. The fruit plants that are introduced to the farmers include citrus fruits (Sweet Orange and Lemon), Pomegranate, Peach, Pear, Plum, Cherry, Apple, Walnut and Persimmon. Farmers are provided with high quality saplings which bear fruit relatively faster than the traditional varieties available in the country. In the year 2018, a total of 128 hectares of land was covered with new orchards. They were created for a total of 2006 beneficiaries.
During the period of fall 2019 to spring 2020, CBARD expanded the operation and created additional orchards in the target provinces covering more than 390 hectares of land. Beneficiaries are selected in each village by a joint committee comprised of representatives from DAIL, the local Community Development Council (CDC) and CBARD’s Technical and M&E Units. Upon selection, they are provided with basic training about initiating and maintaining a fruit orchard. However, training the beneficiaries about different aspects of orchard-keeping like pruning, pest control and plant maintenance is a continuous process.
Overall, this event has once again reinforced the pivotal role that MAIL/UNDP’s CBARD project has played in improving the livelihoods of rural farmers by incentivizing the reduction of their economic dependence on opium poppy through the provision of fruit orchards, giving them a much more profitable alternative with great societal and economic benefits for the country.