A Winning Equation for Afghan Farmers
Improved Seeds + Increased Yields = Higher Income
Throughout Afghanistan, and in provinces such as Herat and Uruzgan, the mung bean is a staple summer crop, constituting an essential food source and revenue stream for farmers and their families. However, few mung bean farmers are aware of the improved seed varieties, inputs, or the latest farming techniques that are shown to increase crop yields, profits, and ultimately, improve livelihoods.
The USAID funded the Roots of Peace Afghan Agricultural Research and Extension Development (AGRED) program is improving awareness and access of information and inputs to one mung bean farmer at a time through its partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) and provincial level branches, Directorates of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAILs). DAIL staff—with financial and technical support from AGRED—work directly with farmers to establish demonstration plots so that harvesting yields of improved mung bean varieties can be compared against local varieties. DAIL and AGRED staff also offer complementary technical guidance on new techniques specifically for the improved seeds to ensure maximum yields are realized.
In Herat province, the DAIL completed one such project which worked with 10 farmers; the evidence reinforces the importance of improved access—Mr. Abdul Qadir, a participating farmer noted “…the distributed seed was one of the best seeds I have ever seen…in the past my total harvest was around 180 kg.,. but as a result of this project, for the same size of land (2000 m2) I get 252 kg. of production.” (40% net increase). Collectively, the ten farmers enjoyed a 35% increase in yields. In Uruzgan province, the results of another AGRED – DAIL mung bean project reflected similar findings. Across six farmers, there was a nearly 20% higher yield in comparison to local varieties and using traditional techniques.
AGRED works with DAIL to disseminate these findings to the broader agricultural community through field days, technology-based pilots, and strategic collaborations. Further, DAIL encourages participating farmers to sell the improved seed variety to other farmers. New farmers can, in subsequent years, sell the seeds to a wider farming network in order to stimulate a modest market-based multiplier effect.