Building upon its successful demonstration projects, GPFA will now partner with farmers to launch 100 commercially-viable orchard and woodlot businesses. Each is projected to generate an income that can sustain a family of eight now living in poverty and to deliver a rate of return higher than poppy cultivation when averaged over seven years.
Critical steps towards accomplishing this aim:
1. Identify, with local governing body or CDC, 100 farm business candidates
2. Develop in collaboration with the CDC and farmers, an appropriate micro-finance package to assist farmers in financing the cost of trees and inputs
3. Survey markets to determine relative demand and profit for a range of wood and tree products
4. Launch knowledge generation activities with selected farmers, including field schools, demonstration plots and training
5. Plant 1 million fruit and poplar trees
6. Develop business plans for each orchard and woodlot enterprise, following comprehensive farmer training in business, marketing and accounting skills
7. Facilitate formation of farmer associations to enhance cooperation among producers and maximize value chain and market linkages
8. Promote the sale of high-value poplar cuttings, saplings and vegetable crops to earn farmers a profit beginning after the first year
The majority of Afghan people rely upon natural resources for food, income and well being. Yet two decades of war and instability, coupled with prolonged drought, have led to widespread environmental degradation and limited the population's ability to meet its needs causing widespread suffering, including poverty, disease, and malnutrition.
Once a net agricultural exporter known for its extraordinary fruits, Afghanistan has lost a majority of its orchards and vineyards. Agriculture once sustained 80% of Afghans, accounted for 50% of the country's GDP, and made Afghanistan self-sufficient in food production. Currently, Afghanistan ranks as one of the world's poorest countries, according to the World Bank.
Constraints to reversing this situation include a severe knowledge gap, lack of investment capital on the part of farmers and communities, and isolation from new technologies and approaches which would accelerate development.
In 2004, GPFA launched its on-the-ground efforts to help rural Afghan families restore their orchards, woodlots and family gardens. To date, with help from GPFA, hundreds of families have revitalized their farms and over 145,000 trees have been planted in orchards, nurseries and woodlots, generating increasing food, environmental and health benefits, and income. Farmers - male and female - have proven to be competent and motivated local partners, willing to invest their own limited resources, repay loans, apply new approaches, and fulfill contractual agreements. Community-based decisions, facilitated via a working partnership with the local village council (Shura) or CDC, are the foundation for GPFA's approach.
This project adopts a community-based approach to increased environmental benefits and sustainable livelihoods via three outcomes:
Significant increases in tree cover by private orchard and woodlot owners;
Increased business profitability via market analysis, business skill development and access to business-enabling mechanisms (credit, farmer associations, support services); and
Enhanced community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) via dialogue, survey and demonstration of economic, environmental and social benefits derived from sustainable land use.
July 7, 2008
Implementation Period: January 1, 2007 - July 8, 2008
The commitment was able to identify the principle program options such and target the specific localities. Discussions were made with the local governments, local leaders, and potential program participants. Farmers were selected for participation based on predetermined criteria. Improvements in plant materials were made available for dissemination and the fundraising program was expanded. The project completed the monitoring and evaluation of survival rates, production and sales. Participants included small farmers and their families in 300 villages across central and northern Afghanistan.