Professional development such as enhancing existing skills and learning new ones is vital for both businesses and individual entrepreneurs to thrive economically. Training in specific production skills leads to safer and better quality food products for local markets in Afghanistan.
In August 2020, Community-Based Agriculture and Rural Development—Access to International Markets (CBARD-AIM) project trained 142 female food processors in Farah and Nangarhar provinces in pickle and jam production, quality packing, food safety, labeling and Good Manufacturing practices. Previously, these processors relied on inefficient traditional methods that didn’t allow them to meet existing market demands and consumer preferences, evident in both poor sales volumes and lower product prices.
From among the trained processors, 34 in Nangarhar and 25 in Farah were selected to receive food processing kits based on their performance during the training. The kits were distributed to trainees to help them improve the quality, quantity and attractiveness of their products and increase their sales.
An impact survey conducted several months after the training showed that both productivity and sales volumes of the participating food processors had dramatically increased. In Farah province, sales volumes grew by 43 percent and production increased almost by two-thirds, or 63 percent. In Nangarhar, production capacity increased by 37 percent and sales volumes grew by 57 percent.
Husna is one of the pickle and jam processor who received both training and a food processing kit. She has greatly benefited from the new skills and effective processing methods. In addition to improving the quality of her products, she selected a more attractive brand name and label, which resulted in selling 220 kilograms of pickles at significantly higher prices. Prior to the training, she printed her first 50 labels in Farah city for 1,000 Afghanis, or 20 Afs per label. In contrast, she recently placed an order in Herat for 1,000 more for 1,200 Afs, or 1.2 Afs per label. This combination of increased output, higher prices and lower costs has also increased her profit margins.
"In the past, I was able to sell 60 to 70 kilograms of pickles at 35 Afs per kilogram, but after receiving the training and kits that included labels for my products, my monthly sales have more than doubled, and I now sell each kilogram of pickles for a much better price," said Husna.
Besides supporting small and medium agricultural processors, CBARD-AIM works with farmers who have switched from growing poppy to licit crops to learn and apply new farming techniques that can help them increase their yields and incomes. Improved farmers' livelihood paves the way for sustainable peace at grassroots level.
CBARD-AIM is funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and is implemented by Roots of Peace in partnership with the UN Development Programme in Afghanistan.