Afghan Farmers in Conflict-Affected Kandahar Achieve Significant Upturn in Exports
The past three decades of conflict in Afghanistan have not been kind to the farming communities in the fields and vineyards of Kandahar. A series of crises has made work almost unbearable for the farmers, who struggle to modernize their methods and improve links with vital export markets.
IFC is contributing to Kandahar’s recovery with an award winning project that has helped raisin and pomegranate farmers increase production and improve exports to more than $4 million, restoring vitality to their community. The project has trained 1,500 farmers—and 40 extension workers—in modern production and storage techniques, leading to higher yields and much less waste.
“It used to take more than a month to dry 12 tons of raisins and many grapes were wasted in the process,” said Haji Juman Khan, a local farmer. “But with the construction of new drying houses a lot of our problems have been solved. Now we can dry 22 tons of raisins in 16 days.”
The introduction of 110 modern drying houses more than doubled the output of raisins, and the bumper crops led to increased export opportunities. Training in innovative sorting and packing techniques has allowed the farmers to reach out to new foreign markets, which were previously unconvinced by the Kandahar product. What’s more, thanks to the improved quality, farmers have been able to increase their asking price by as much as 60 percent.
“Before this project our export contacts were agents who worked on commission, and they bought our produce at a very low price,” said Haji Shahzada, owner and beneficiary of a new drying house. “Now, we’ve established new direct links and identified new markets, especially in India, and we’ve cut out the middle man to get a higher price.”
As part of a commitment to the local community, nearby small businesses helped build the modern drying houses and the training workshops were conducted in the local language of Pashtu. The Business Edge management training tool also made use of local examples to teach farmers how to make the most of their opportunities.