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FEATURE STORY

New Techniques Promote Horticultural Output and Income Growth

May 6, 2015

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Abdul Wasay's orchard has improved yields resulting from innovative farming techniques.

Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Story Highlights
  • Innovative farming techniques are helping horticulturalists in Kabul province improve their yields as well as extend the growing season.
  • Model farms are being created to show the way, in an initiative under the National Horticulture and Livestock Project implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.
  • The project, supported by a grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), aims to increase productivity and overall production of horticultural products.

KARIZ MIR VILLAGE, Kabul Province – Snow blankets the surrounding hills and wintry winds blow. But despite the wind and cold, trees planted at the bottom of these hills stand unswayed and unaffected. 

A durable metal wire supports and connects the 444 small saplings, with metal poles every several meters further stabilizing the young trees.

Abdul Wasay, 44, is the long-time owner of this apple orchard. “The orchard has a trellis system to grow apple trees, thanks to which we plant the trees in very close proximity to each other,” he explains.

This planting technique is unusual, because it plants trees at nearly six times the density of traditional planting techniques. Through this trellis system, the roots of the trees develop such that they do not grow very large. A trellis is installed on one side of the trees to support them, and a highly controlled drip system irrigates the trees.

Along with his family of 10, Wasay owns 10 acres of land in Kariz Mir village of Shakardara district, 20 kilometers north of Kabul City.

“Last year I decided to experiment with this high density farming on one of my 10 acres,” Wasay says. “I was able to harvest the products of that experiment this year, whereas apple trees planted using normal methods generally don’t bear fruit until three to four years after planting.” 


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Abdul Wasey's harvest has seen an unprecedented yield, and with the quality of the apples also higher than ever.

Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

" “Through the establishment of orchards that extend the regular apple season, we are able to extend local production, and thus compete with the world.” "

Abdul Wasay

Orchard owner, Kariz Mir village

Image

Despite the wind and cold, trees planted at the bottom of these hills stand unswayed and unaffected.

Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Wasay established the high density orchard through a partnership with the National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP), implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock with a $100 million grant support from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). 

NHLP contributes to the overarching goal of increased productivity and overall production of horticultural products, and improved animal production and health. The technical strategy for achieving this objective is based on the delivery of extension and investment support through strengthened systems. These activities are currently implemented in 120 districts in 23 target provinces, numbers that may grow as conditions warrant.

“The support of NHLP has been tremendous,” Wasay says. With the project’s support, his harvest has seen an unprecedented yield, and with the quality of the apples also higher than ever.  “The taste of the apples was excellent and the color was beyond words,” he adds.

Model farms serve as examples

Each year, NHLP supports the creation of about 120 to 160 new orchards in the Shakardara district. Officials say that the operational expenses of these plots are shared equally between NHLP and orchard owners.  

“We provide the farmers tools, such as pruning shears, saws, ladders, pesticide sprays, and boxes for fruit packing,” says Zaal Mohammad Amerkhail, the local NHLP supervisor in the district. “The farmers themselves also contribute up to 50 or 75 percent of the total cost of these tools.”

Amerkhail says that the project also establishes model farms and orchards to serve as examples, such as the trellis construction on Wasay’s apple orchard, which was the first model orchard established in Shakerdara. Whereas most farmers contribute to the operational expenses of their plots in the project, NHLP covers all the costs associated with the establishment of these promotional orchards.

The project has also set up a group of 34 farmers who periodically come together to discuss important topics and share experiences and best practices. NHLP employees teach participants important lessons about modern farming and horticultural issues.

NHLP officials believe that the expansion of such orchards and farms has the potential to increase farmer income, something Wasay constantly emphasizes.

Wasay says that this year, each of the small trees planted under the project produced five to six kilograms of apples. These apples were collected just as the Afghan apple season finished in markets across the country. In addition to increasing yield, these orchards have the potential to extend the local apple season.

“After the end of the Afghan apple season, apples are imported from overseas, because local apples are no longer available in national and local markets,” Wasay points out. “Through the establishment of orchards that extend the regular apple season, we are able to extend local production, and thus compete with the world.”


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