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Transforming Lives

A poultry farmer tends to her chickens in Qalat, Zabul.

Bibi Derkho, a farmer in Afghanistan, has sent her children back to school after opening her own poultry business in Qalat district of Zabul province.  “Before, my children were working to support the family,” she said, “and now I am supporting the family and the children are going to school.”  Bibi Derkho is one of 180 women selected by local government representatives to attend a six-month training in home-based poultry rearing. 

A farmer in Wardak inspects his apple crop. In early November 2009, USAID helped farmers in Wardak and Paktya export their apple

In early November 2009, Afghan farmers made history with the first-ever export of their apples to India.  The country’s farmers now have the opportunity to introduce their apples – some of the crunchiest, sweetest, and largest in the region – to the biggest market in South and Central Asia.  USAID worked with a local trader to facilitate a trial shipment of three metric tons of apples to India.

Women in Kunduz Province learn how to use combs to harvest valuable cashmere from their goats.

Until recently, Afghans used their goats only for their milk, meat, wool, and leather. Now, more than 170,000 male and female goat herders are aware of the high value of cashmere and the proper methods to harvest and market this commodity.

Din Mohammad, a wheat farmer from the village of Sarasyab in Balkh, is grateful for USAID-funded wheat seed and fertilizer that

Afghanistan’s northern and western regions have traditionally produced large volumes of wheat. Following 2008’s near-disastrous wheat harvest due to the country’s worst drought in 10 years, experts were predicting an even bleaker outlook for 2009. Last year, many farmers found themselves with limited food supplies for their families and were forced to sell off livestock to make ends meet.

The owner of Sudais Saud inspects cashmere waiting to be packaged for export.

Despite a slumping demand for luxury goods in the world due to the economic crisis, international markets are waking up to opportunities in Afghanistan’s nascent cashmere industry.  Until recently, the value of cashmere was not recognized in the country, and much of its potential was lost when herders sheared their goats for wool.  That all changed when USAID launched a nationwide campaign to increase awareness and educate male and female goat herders on how to harvest the product.

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Last updated: October 11, 2017

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