Commemorating the start of the Afghan New Year 1400, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) organized the annual Farmers’ Festival followed by four-day Spring Agricultural Fair (AgFair) at Badam Bagh exhibition area, Kabul from 22nd to 25th of March 2021.
25th of its kind, this year’s spring Ag-Fair included 286 booths which showcased agricultural and livestock products by different value chain actors from all across the country. In addition, handicraft products, traditionally made by women, were also displayed. Both of the AgFair events serve as a platform to facilitate market linkages between agriculture professionals and businesses (forward and backward) and signing contracts with potential buyers. The event enables farmers, high government officials, different development projects and NGOs to directly interact with each other, learn from each other’s experiences, explore business opportunities, and discuss problems, issues and potential solutions.
Since its inception, UNDP’s CBARD project has been participating in both the AgFairs every year with the purpose of showcasing the project’s activities and achievements through alternative development initiatives in the three target provinces of Badghis, Farah and Nangarhar. The events also help the exhibitors improve linkages within different value chains and showcase their products and further improve their market circles.
This time the project had two booths in the fair which were set up by male and female project beneficiaries where they put on display different varieties of honey, fruit jams and pickles produced with the training and toolkits provided by CBARD as well as samples of fruits and vegetables grown in CBARD planted orchards and greenhouses installed by the project. The honey, jams and pickles were brought for sale, while the fruits and vegetables were only for display purposes.
Normally, after every harvest, the project beneficiaries who are trained in beekeeping and food processing, prepare their products and sell them in local markets. This brings them a decent income which has helped them in supporting their families over the years. However, participation in the AgFair gave them a unique opportunity of selling larger volumes of their products at once. In total they sold 154 kg honey, 114 kg pickles and 47 kg fruit jams; a total sale of more than Afs. 100,000.
Shakiba, one of the beneficiaries from Posht-e-Rod, Farah said “the AgFair was very beneficial for us as we got to know new ways of processing some of the fruits, different ways of packaging and we had good sales too”.
Thanks to the generous funding from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), since its inception in 2018 the Community Based Agriculture and Rural Development (CBARD) project has constructed more than 1,125 commercial (301 & 404 sqm) and micro (60 sqm) greenhouses for former opium poppy growers in 12 districts of the Farah, Badghis and Nangarhar provinces.
Along with this, the project has planted more than 1,121 hectares of fruit orchards for more than 4,100 beneficiaries in the aforementioned provinces. The orchards produce many diverse fruits such as apples, pomegranates, grapes, sweet oranges, lemons, peaches, plums, pears, walnuts and persimmons.
The project also constructs cool storages for fruits and raisin houses for grape farmers, as well as constructs and rebuilds irrigation and water management structures like irrigation canals, protection walls, water dividers, siphons, water intakes etc. These structures have prevented loss of vital agricultural land to floods and water wastage, and transformed hundreds of hectares of land in target districts which were left barren due to an absence of efficient water distribution systems, and insufficient water for irrigation.