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Transforming Lives

Manzoor Ahmad in his apricot orchard in Nangarhar

Until recently, farmers in eastern Afghanistan dreamt of a good harvest but were unable to make it a reality. Their orchards suffered from poor management and irrigation practices, and crucially, the inability to control winter pests. Then USAID started to educate them in February 2012 on the benefits of a pesticide called dormant, or winter, oil.

Nazira, at home in Parwan province
September 2013—Nazira* cultivates a kitchen garden, selling the vegetables and earning more than she ever made as a seamstress.
 
“I lost my father when I was a child. It’s up to me to support my family and now I can,” she says.
 
The Sarkani cricket team prepares to play its first match on the newly redone pitch
September 2013—When the Sarkani Youth Association in the northeastern Afghan province of Kunar decided to re-build a cricket pitch [When?], it was more than an acknowledgement of the area’s most popular sport. It symbolized a crucial attempt to engage with young people.
 
Afghan farmers are replacing disease-prone crops with imported virus-resistant plants.

Virus-resistant citrus plants are offering healthier prospects to farmers in eastern Afghanistan. Diseased rootstock has been replaced by 500,000 seedlings planted across 1,500 acres in Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar provinces between 2010 and 2012. Five years from now, they are expected to yield a rich harvest every year, earning an estimated $3 million in combined fruit sales.

A fruit farmer, newly trained in pruning techniques, hard at work in an orchard in Nangarhar

Matiullah’s orchard produced nearly 60,000 kilos of apricots last season. It was a remarkable harvest from just two jeribs, says Matiullah, using the traditional Afghan unit, which equals 4,000 square meters. He says the yield is the result of professional pruning techniques. “We can easily control growth…not only do we get higher yields, harvesting is much easier.”

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Last updated: January 20, 2015

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