FEATURE STORY February 26, 2018

Modern Farming Boosts Production in Afghanistan's Khost Province


Many Villagers like Haji Noorjan implement new horticulture methods that they have learned during training sessions organized under the National Horticulture and Livestock Project. He can now cultivate his farmland three times per year with pomegranate, wheat and vegetable.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


  • Farmers in the southeastern Khost Province are adopting modern farming methods to increase crop yields and raise their earnings.
  • They are benefiting from the National Horticultural and Livestock Project which has spurred the production of vegetables, nuts, and fruits across Afghanistan.
  • Better Irrigation, generated in part through solar water pumps, has increased the amount of land farmers can cultivate.

KHOST CITY – Haji Noorjan, 65, gently presses a button to turn on his solar water pump. A small green light blinks and a slight noise indicates that the pump is working. A few seconds later, cold water gushes out from the pipe and flows toward his farmland, now lush with grass and a variety of fruit trees.

For more than 45 years, Haji Noorjan has farmed his small plot of land in Chini Kalay village in the province of Khost in southeastern Afghanistan. Here, this father of five mostly grows pomegranates, persimmons, wheat, and vegetables over his 25 jeribs (5 hectares) plot.

Not long ago Noorjan’s village, home to around 150 families - most of whom rely on farming for a living - faced constant water shortages, especially during the summer and autumn months when rain water reserves fell low.

During these times, Noorjan had to rely on a small rickety generator to pump out the well water. However, running a generator was expensive. Fuel costs could touch $1,500, and as his normal yearly earnings were between $4,000 and $6,000, he could not afford to run the generator for long. Then, only half his land would receive the life-giving water, while the rest remained parched and uncultivable.  “Unfortunately, the cost of fuel was too high for us compared to our earnings,” Noorjan recalls. 

"Just half a year of NHLP activities have increased the capacity of farmers and familiarized them with new agricultural and horticultural technologies."
Fazl Rahim
Head of Agriculture Services, Agriculture and Livestock Department, Khost Province


With support fromt the National Horticulture and Livestock Project many farmers now have enough water to irrigate their farmland. To date, the project installed three solar water pumps in Khost province to improve water supply management.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

The solar water pump, which saves these huge running costs, has brought life back to Noorjan and his land. Noorjan’s son, Zubaidullah, 22, who helps his father in farming, is thankful that the water shortage is being addressed. “In the past when we needed water most, there was no water. Now, we will have water all year round and can even give some to our neighbors,” he says.

Noorjan has the National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP) to thank for the recently installed solar water pump. He now looks forward to the project’s support in helping him modernize his farming methods and become an example of a modern-day farmer in his village.

With a $190 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), NHLP is working toward increasing yields as well as the overall production of horticultural products in Afghanistan. NHLP, which operates under the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, began its activities in April 2013 and will run through to the end of 2020.

Since 2016, with support from the National Horticulture and Livestock Project more than 214 hectares of farmlands have been established with variety of orchards in Khost province. Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

New Horticultural Methods

The project started working in Khost Province in early 2016, covering 10 districts, including the provincial center. . Farmers have begun are implement the new horticultural methods they have learned from the project,” says Zaher Jan Saleem, NHLP Provincial Coordinator in Khost.

To date, NHLP has established more than 1,000 jeribs (about 214 hectares) of different varieties of orchards, such as pistachio, persimmon, apple, almond, and plum. “NHLP is one of the first projects working in horticulture in Khost Province,” says Engineer Fazl Rahim, Head of Agriculture Services in the Agriculture and Livestock Department of Khost Province. “Just half a year of their activities increased the capacity of farmers and familiarized them with new agricultural and horticultural techniques.”

Having installed three solar water pumps, NHLP is working to establish four water harvesting structures, eight water pools, and four deep wells to address the water shortage across the districts under its coverage in the province.