KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a three-year extension to its 2010-2016 Commercial Horticulture and Agricultural Marketing Program (CHAMP) to widen its geographic coverage in Afghanistan and reach more international markets; the extension added nearly $16 million to the project’s previous budget, $46 million.
USAID Mission Director Herbert Smith noted that more than 80 percent of Afghans make their living in agriculture.
“Development of the agriculture sector is critical to the coordinated efforts of USAID and the Government of Afghanistan to increase economic growth and improve the lives of the Afghan people,” Smith said.
Afghan Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Assadullah Zamir welcomed the project extension.
“USAID assistance for agricultural marketing and access to international markets is critical for strengthening the Afghan high-value horticultural value chains,” Zamir said.
CHAMP, implemented by the non-profit organization Roots of Peace, has facilitated the export of $51 million of fruits and nuts by aggressively targeting new markets in India and the United Arab Emirates, cultivating new buyers and expanding awareness for Afghan produce. Under the extension, the program will focus on a wider variety of crops and develop new Central Asian markets. It also will undertake a grant program to establish or improve cold storage and packing facilities to enable Afghan food products to meet European import requirements.
“A few years ago, exporters could not find enough quality fruit that was up to international standards,” Roots of Peace President Gary Kuhn said.
“Afghan farmers are now producing better fruit due to years of USAID-funded projects such as CHAMP. Now we need to increase the value of the harvest and build new markets,” Kuhn added.
For more information about USAID’s programs, please visit: http://afghanistan.usaid.gov