New Deal for Landless Farmers

Workers repairing a wall along the canal. The canal project employed 1,395 workers.
Workers repairing a wall along the canal. The canal project employed 1,395 workers.
USAID/CDP/CADG
Canal repairs help tenant farmers and landowners with the benefits from improved irrigation
29 MARCH 2012 | LOGAR, AFGHANISTAN
 
Repairs to the Muhammad Agha canal benefit a wide range of farmers, including farmers who have lost their land and now survive on tenant farming.
 
Tenant farming arrangements are common throughout the province. Half of the households in the province depend on farmland or livestock for their livelihoods. The majority of these households have entered into some form of tenancy-farming agreements.
 
Hikmatullah Omari describes two tenant farming systems in the Province of Logar: "In one method, the tenant farmer splits the cost of fertilizer, seeds, and tools with the landowner. In the other method, the landowner provides all of the materials." The former arrangement is covered under a 50/50 split with the tenant farmer, while the latter is covered under a 75/25 landowner-to-farmer split. "This makes sense," he says, "because the landowner is bearing much more cost and risk."
 
Often, a farmer will work as a tenant while managing a small plot of his own land. "I started as a successful farmer," said Omari. "My family had several orchards, but flooding and drought took our land and our trees. I have only a small amount of land now, so I do most of my work as a tenant farmer for a larger landowner who lives in Kabul."
 
Logar’s provincial government reached out to USAID for assistance in revitalizing the canal that supplies water to Omari and an estimated 7,800 other residents in the Muhammad Agha District of Logar. USAID’s implementing partner, Central Asia Development Group, worked with provincial level authorities and district residents and hired laborers from the local community to successfully repair 13.9 km of the canal. The workers reconstructed 18 culverts and 115 water gates, and repaired 535 meters of side canals. Eighteen villages and 1,300 households benefited from the reconstruction work.
 
"With the improvements to this canal, risk will go down and some tenants will be able to move from a 75/25 arrangement to a 50/50 relationship with their landlords to make more money," said Omari. In his case, he expects to recover some of the land that he lost to drought. "I used to grow grain for cattle on my land. As the water situation improves, I will be able to do this again. I may even be able to rebuild my stock of cattle, which I lost to drought over the last 10 years."

Last updated: January 08, 2014

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