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Transforming Lives

The Nangarhar Seed Producer and Wholesaler Association’s new seed storage facility in Jalalabad.

Increasing the capacity to store seeds for future planting seasons is key to the sustainability and growth of the agriculture sector in Afghanistan.  USAID recently assisted the Nangarhar Seed Producer and Wholesaler Association (SPWA) in the construction of a new seed storage facility in eastern Afghanistan.  Previously, the association lacked an adequate storage facility where seeds could be preserved in safe, sanitary conditions and then sold according to seasonal demand.

The agreement with the Ministry of Mines was announced at a Nuristani Gemstone Association general assembly meeting.

Afghanistan contains sizable deposits of precious and semi-precious stones, including emeralds, sapphires, tourmaline, and lapis lazuli, and the gem industry has the potential to be a major driver of economic growth.  In the remote eastern province of Nuristan, blue and pink tourmaline, kunzite, and aquamarine have been mined for generations.  Yet, until recently, mining and selling gemstones was illegal.  Legal provisions for trade in gemstones – considered the property of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – did not exist.

Baharak Bazaar vegetable trader Faiz Mohammad (left) has enjoyed brisk sales since the completion of USAID’s road building campa

Several years ago, there were only three produce merchants in the Baharak Bazaar, a market in Afghanistan’s remote northern province of Badakhshan.  Today, there are 30 traders selling fresh fruits and vegetables.  Farmers are growing more diverse crops and enjoying larger harvests as they take advantage of lower transportation costs resulting from a massive USAID program to build and improve roads.

A tractor plows land in Balkh’s Dihdadi district to ensure that wild pistachio seedlings have proper spacing and irrigation.

USAID is helping rural Afghans improve their environment and their incomes by planting pistachio seedlings.  Wild pistachio forests were once common in northern Afghanistan, but years of improper harvesting and neglect led to the destruction of many forests.  Now, a USAID cash-for-work project is underway that will restore pistachio forests covering 700 hectares in Balkh Province while providing jobs for local residents.

More than 1,400 workers earned an income from cleaning the Balkh Canal.

The Balkh Canal rehabilitation is one of several cash-for-work projects implemented by USAID to improve water flow and increase agricultural production.  The canal cleaning also provided needed employment to laborers in the area, who frequently had trouble finding work to provide for their families.

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Last updated: October 24, 2016

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