FEATURE STORY February 21, 2019

Modern Horticultural Practices Improve Rural Livelihoods in Northern Afghanistan

Image

In northern Afghanistan, pistachio groves built on 370 hectares of drylands with support from the National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP) have become reliable income sources for Afghan farmers.

Photo Credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank


Story Highlights

  • Planting drought-resilient crops using modern horticultural practices has given drylands in northern Afghanistan a new lease on life.
  • Supported by the National Horticulture and Livestock Project, farmers are turning their previously uncultivable land into a source of income by growing crops, such as pistachio, that thrive in arid conditions.
  • The project, supported by a grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, has helped set up some 370 hectares of pistachio groves in northern Afghanistan.

NAHR-E-SHAHI DISTRICT, Balkh Province – Haji Nader Nabizadah, 45, had no idea that the arid land he owned with his business partner, Haji Najibullah Osmani, 45, could one day turn into a source of income.

in 2014 by establishing a 25-jerib (5 hectares) orchard, growing peaches, apricots, and grapes, with support from the National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP).

,” says Nader, who was encouraged by the modern horticultural system the project promoted and the quality yields from it.

Inspired by their initial experience and NHLP plantation campaigns, the partners decided to invest in turning their arid land into a pistachio grove. They established a 60-jerib (12 hectares) grove in 2016 and another of over 60 jeribs in 2018 with pistachio trees they received from NHLP. The groves are in the Shadian area on the outskirts of Nahr-e-Shahi district, 10 kilometers south of the Balkh provincial center, Mazar-e-Sharif. “We hope to harvest them in six to seven years,” Nader says.

Pistachio trees are particularly suitable to growing on drylands as they thrive under harsh conditions and are resistant to drought, requiring only some irrigation. Nader is visiting the new grove today to ensure that the trees are irrigated as recommended by NHLP technicians.

In addition to the pistachio trees, NHLP has provided seven water tanks for irrigation to the groves. . Much of their investment has gone into bringing irrigation water to the farm and implementing a drip irrigation system, whereby water is slowly delivered to the roots of the plants.

NHLP has also provided horticulture training on proper irrigation, seasonal diseases, and tree pruning. “We do all our activities here in close consultation with NHLP. When we need help, they always come here and help us. People are also saying that our horticulture system is efficient,” says Nader, after discussing with an NHLP pistachio extension worker when they should graft their trees.

Amanuddin Safa, 27, an NHLP pistachio extension worker for Balkh Province, says that Nader’s pistachio groves are growing satisfactorily and that they could expect to harvest one ton of pistachios per jerib. “We work on pistachio groves across all 14 districts of Balkh Province and everywhere we have good examples. Overall, we have a positive result,” he says.


"We do all our activities here in close consultation with NHLP. When we need help, they always come here and help us. People are also saying that our horticulture system is efficient."
Image
Haji Nader Nabizadah
Entrepreneur


Boost in Quality and Quantity

NHLP is a Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) project, supported by a $190 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors. NHLP works toward the overarching goal of increasing productivity and production of the horticultural and livestock sectors.

. In 2017 and 2018, NHLP helped establish 4,300 jeribs (860 hectares) of grape, apple, almond, pomegranate, peach, and apricot. In 2018, the project helped establish 1,844 jeribs (almost 370 hectares) of pistachio groves, including Nader’s, on drylands in the northern region.

Ahmad Fahim Jabari, NHLP regional coordinator for the northern region, says that NHLP activities have made a huge positive impact on horticulture and livestock practices in his area. “,” he says. “We have also provided trainings for farmers and their knowledge of horticulture has increased.”


Giving Life to Drylands

Another NHLP beneficiary, Haji Mirza, 45,jerib (3 hectares) pistachio grove on his arid land in 2014 when he learnt from NHLP how pistachios could thrive in harsh conditions with low amounts of water. A year later, he established 7 jeribs (1.4 hectares) of almond, another crop suitable for drylands, with NHLP support. “My farming was near zero. We faced a shortage of irrigation water and our land had no value,” he says. “Thanks to our government and the NHLP for improving our farming work.”

Image
In addition to establishing orchards, the NHLP provided horticulture training on proper irrigation, seasonal diseases, and tree pruning. Photo credit: Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

To solve the shortage of irrigation water initially, NHLP constructed an irrigation pool for Mirza at a total cost of $13,000, of which he contributed 30 percent. Mirza now has access to irrigation water throughout the year. His groves are growing well and, in the near future, he will be able to send products to market. “,” he says. “We are thankful and hope the project continues and expands its activities.”



Api
Api