Afghanistan has 15 million laborers, nearly 80 percent of them agriculture workers who grow fruit, nuts and seeds. A four-year effort by Relief International, with support from the EU, aims to create greater opportunity for these workers by repairing gaps in the farming system and expanding their access to markets.
The program, which runs through December 2017, specifically aims to revive Afghanistan’s citrus industry by helping local growers enter domestic markets at a higher level. Improvements to the industry would raise incomes and profitability, cut back on imports and feed the country’s economy.
Increased agricultural production and the end of a four-year drought have significantly improved Afghanistan’s economy in recent years. The country’s agricultural sector has grown since 2002, but many items — fruit and citrus in particular — get trapped in bottlenecks on their way to market.
Relief International, in partnership with the Afghanistan National Horticulture Development Organization (ANHDO), will work with the Afghan nursery industry and organizations representing local citrus growers, processors and traders to improve the journey from field to market. The program, which is funded by the European Union and supported by Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, will run through December 2017.
The program aims to:
- Increase the number of fruit science laboratories. Crop research will help produce better orchards. Food safety tests will add value, increase orchard productivity and clear the way for produce to compete in international markets. Afghanistan currently has only four such laboratories.
- Improve traceability, which currently limits acceptance of the product, as well as national standards for storing, packaging and processing fruit.
- Improve marketing to help Afghan citrus compete in domestic and international markets.
- Offer highly specialized technical support.
- Strengthen industry leadership, which has been strained by the large number of orchards and nurseries to manage. The Afghanistan National Nursery Growers’ Organization (ANNGO) represents 22 provinces that contain thousands of nurseries.