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.”