Afghan Citrus Farmers Conquer Diseased Plants

Afghan farmers are replacing disease-prone crops with imported virus-resistant plants.
Afghan farmers are replacing disease-prone crops with imported virus-resistant plants.
USAID IDEA-NEW program
Virus-resistant plants bring healthy fruits and profits
“I used to make around 160,000 Afghanis a year, but with the new rootstock, it’s almost 290,000 Afghanis.”
September 2013—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 Diseased rootstock has been replaced by 500,000 seedlings planted across 1,500 acres in Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar provinces between 2010 and 2012.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.
 
Esa Khan, a farmer in Nangarhar’s Behsud district, says he is already earning nearly twice as much from the citrus saplings he received from USAID in 2010. “I used to make  around 160,000 Afghanis (nearly $3,000) a year, but with the new rootstock, it’s almost 290,000 Afghanis (more than $5,000).”
 
Like many farmers, Khan was unable to capitalize on the region’s excellent growing conditions for oranges, tangerines and lemons. Many nursery growers grafted citrus seedlings that were not resistant to the Tristeza virus, which is prevalent in the region. As a result, farmers’ disease-wracked orchards had short lifespans, sometimes as little as a fifth of the normal 25 to 35 years. Yield was low.
 
USAID—through its Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East and West (IDEA-NEW) program—partnered with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to import a virus-resistant seed. Since 2010, nursery associations and provincial government agriculture departments have been managing propagation.
 
IDEA-NEW focuses on activities that promote income and job creation through increased commercial agricultural opportunities for Afghan farmers in poppy-prone areas. The program strengthens farm-to-market linkages in its three target regions and works to grow agribusinesses by forming connections between producers, traders and buyers through market information and sales promotion. Since 2009, the program has distributed nearly 93,000 individual saplings to farmers in Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar provinces.

Last updated: January 07, 2014

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