Many farmers in the Arghandab district of Afghanistan are now paying much more attention to quality and increasing their incomes from the sale of pomegranates and other fruit. Thanks to assistance from USAID Afghanistan Stabilization Initiative-South (ASI-S) Project, they now are better able to support their families.
Access to improved post-harvest methods and markets is key to successful and profitable farming. Yet many Afghan farmers are literate and live in remote areas where quality standards and distant markets were not known. Furthermore, even when traders came to buy their fruit, many farmers do not know the value of their fruit or how to negotiate the best prices. Take for example, Abdul Jan who lives in the North of the Arghandab District. He is soft spoken and serious about his work. Produce from his land helps feed his family of 9. He farms 0.4 hectares and grows alfalfa, vegetables and pomegranates. By adapting the proper production, harvesting, packing, sorting and marketing techniques his income increased by 60% this past year. Mr. Jan attributes this increase due to 25% increase in yield and a 50% increase in price. He cited, that there were many more traders to deal with this year, which enabled him to be able negotiate better when selling his crop. He said that the post-harvest training that he received made him aware of the importance of quality, thus allowing him to present his product much better, therefore commanding a higher price.
Through the training program, farmers have witnessed cost reductions, production increases, increased income, a better understanding of quality and packaging standards, more self-confidence and increased community stabilization. Following are some quotes:
“The prices were good; because of the high quality I was able to sell most of my pomegranates to the export markets.” – Haji Abdul Baqi – Farmer/Trader
“My income improved this year, because I had higher quality fruit to sell. I now know how to pack and sort properly.” – Gulaly – Farmer
“The prices were good, because we raised the trees according to the guidelines in the booklets and the ways explained in the training sessions, so the trees gave us good crop of best quality and we sold that on high prices in the market and to the traders.” Yaar Mohammad – Farmer
“Our business improved this year, because we were able to sell our crop at a higher price. In the past, I sold my fruit to the market, now with the introduction of several traders; I can negotiate a better price. We plan to sell a lot more pomegranates in the future.” Haji Assadullah – Farmer
“The quality this year was impressive and we were able to get a better price. This is due to our hard work in the field using the guidelines provided to us in the booklets.” Bacha Mama – Farmer
Currently, the participating farmers are using these new post-harvest practices, along with their training manuals to demonstrate firsthand the benefits to other farmers. These efforts are creating greater awareness among farmers and will increase the volume of exportable pomegranates in the future, thus resulting in higher incomes for more families.
The project has trained more than 500 rural Afghans, to increase their harvests and strengthen their marketing and business skills by using these post-harvest and marketing techniques. The project has also worked with traders, exporters, importers, and community organizations to improve collaboration, trade, and marketing of agricultural products.