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FEATURE STORY August 10, 2021

In Afghanistan's Kapisa Province, Greenhouses Help Families Grow Food Year Round

Story Highlights:

  • Over 300 women in a district of Kapisa province are able to grow food for their families throughout the year under a program that provided micro greenhouses.
  • The women were chosen based on financial need and access to sufficient land for the greenhouse.
  • The greenhouse initiative was implemented by the National Horticultural and Livestock Project, a government program to promote adoption of improved horticultural practices.

HESSA AWAL KOHISTAN DISTRICT, Kapisa Province—Until a few years ago, Wahida, a farmer and mother of six, could not afford to buy coal to heat her home.

Her life changed in 2015, when she was selected to receive a micro greenhouse from the National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP), a government program to promote adoption of improved production and post-harvest practices in the horticultural sector.

Wahida began by cultivating vegetables she was familiar with, such as cucumbers and tomatoes in the summer, and lettuce in spring and winter. Neighbors bought her surplus vegetables, earning her between 10,000 and 15,000 afghanis (around $130–195)* a month.

In early 2019, she decided to branch out into cultivating saffron after hearing about a new NHLP initiative providing saffron seeds to greenhouse owners.

In her first season, she successfully harvested about 33 grams of saffron, which she sold to a local business, which packaged the product, for 150 afghanis (about $2) per gram, earning about 5,000 afghanis (about $64).

NHLP continues to give Wahida support to improve her horticultural skills and increase her income. “We have monthly classes on cultivating vegetables in greenhouses, where we also learn how to apply fertilizer,” says Wahida, who attends regularly. They are also taught to produce their own fertilizer from organic wastes, she says. "The program has been very beneficial to us."

Saima, has seen many families in Hessa Awal Kohistan district benefit from the greenhouse initiative started in 2013 by NHLP.

“Most women in this area didn't work outside their homes,” Saima says, “so we thought it would be a good idea to provide them with something to work on and at the same time provide for their families.”

"This greenhouse has helped us a lot. Before we couldn’t grow anything in the winter, but now we can at least grow enough to feed my family."
Farmer, Kapisa province


An Afghan woman n Kapisa province showcasing her cultivated saffron seeds in her greenhouse established by the ARTF support National Horticultural and Livestock Project (NHLP). 

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Food in all seasons

 The beneficiaries were chosen based on financial need and access to at least 250 square meters of land. Each greenhouse was built with a 25,000-afghani (about $320) grant from NHLP.

Being able to grow their own vegetables through the seasons in the greenhouses has meant food in the winter and better food quality, especially for children and pregnant women, in an area where malnutrition is an issue. “We are also aiming to reduce childhood malnutrition by establishing these greenhouses,” Siama says. “The children can eat the vegetables grown in their own family greenhouses. They can have vegetables in the winter as well. This also helps pregnant women who don’t have vegetables in the winter.”

This was the issue another NHLP beneficiary, Roh, faced. A farmer and mother of two in Hessa Awal Kohistan district, Roh grew wheat, potatoes, and vegetables on her 1.5 jeribs (0.3 hectares) of land to feed her family but could not farm during the winter because of the cold climate in Kapisa province, located in northeastern Afghanistan. Roh's family also struggled to buy vegetables in the winter, as prices in the local bazaar are higher than they can afford on her husband’s salary from work as a security guard. It was hard to make ends meet for many winters until she received NHLP's help to establish a micro greenhouse in March 2016.

Growing vegetables in their own greenhouses with support from Afghan government's NHLP projects has enabled Afghan rural women to support their families and fight food insecurity. Photo credit: Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

“This greenhouse has helped us a lot,” says Roh, “before we couldn’t grow anything in the winter, but now we can at least grow enough to feed my family.” Her greenhouse skills have improved with NHLP training, and she grew a variety of crops, like tomatoes, peppers, mint, and potatoes, last winter.

She sells the surplus produce to other villagers, earning about 5,000 afghanis each time. “With the money I earn from the greenhouse, I usually buy clothes, school uniforms, notebooks, and books for my children,” she says.

It was implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and is supported by the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), managed by the World Bank on behalf of 34 donors. The project was closed on December 2020.

*U.S. dollar equivalents are based on the exchange rate $1 = 77.64 afghanis (June 2020)