Revitalizing Agricultural Markets Program (RAMP) GRAPE Project, 2004–2006
Revitalizing Agricultural Markets Program (RAMP) GRAPE Project, 2004–2006, USAID funded project, managed by Chemonics International, U.S. $5,208,756
Grapevines are intertwined with the history of Central Asia and have sustained generations of Afghans for centuries. In the 1960’s and early 70’s Afghanistan was a regional leader in horticultural production and exports. Grapes, in particular, were highly valued as a source of cash income for families and export earnings for the country. After more than 30 years of conflict, the vines had sustained numerous assaults and suffered from neglect, and the number of actively managed vineyards country-wide had dropped by 45%. The traditional transfer of knowledge through generations had also been disrupted by conflict. The displacement of populations and the lack of modernization over the preceding 30 years had deprived the current generation of farmers of the skills, tools and inputs for high yielding production and destroyed the market systems needed to revive this critical industry.
In March 2004, Roots of Peace began the GRAPE Project aimed at rapidly providing the information, inputs and materials for initial grape and raisin industry rejuvenation over a two year period and laying the ground work for the longer term rebirth of the proud Afghan tradition as regional leaders in horticultural production. The program was funded by USAID and administered by Chemonics International and implemented with a consortium whose members included the University of California Davis for horticulture expertise; Agland Investments for agribusiness expertise; and three Afghan implementing partners, Afghan Center, Afghan Development Association; and Global Partnership for Afghanistan for field implementation of extension programs and construction project.
Our market-driven GRAPE Project had four main program areas: 1) Establishing an extension program to support the cultivation of grapes, which included conducting a train-the-trainer program for 40 Afghan agriculturalists who worked to train regional farmers on vine care, production, postproduction and agribusiness, 2) Developing a table grape nursery system and demonstration farms, 3) Working with farmers to create business associations and marketing groups, and 4) Building market linkages between Afghan farmers and the international marketplace.
The project worked directly with 3,800 farmers and indirectly benefited 80,000 Afghans to demonstrate improvements that would double grape farmer incomes. Our efforts included implementing trellises in 1,100 vineyards, constructing two market centers capable of packaging chilled grapes for international markets, forming 60 commercial nurseries for grape propagation, completing 13 new raisin drying sheds and rehabilitated 40 existing Kishmish Khanas and piloting exports to 8 new international markets. By establishing a mechanism that insures the rapid implementation of vine renewal techniques, the grape rejuvenation program implemented effective means for a short-term boost of production volumes and quality and clearly established new market opportunities for Afghan grapes and raisins.