FAO in Afghanistan

Supporting families to become self-sufficient by growing and selling their own crops

06/10/2020

Zarmina (25 years old) lives in Dara-e-Qazi village of the Feruzkoh district in Ghor province. Zarmina sadly lost her husband a year ago and ever since has been raising her 2-year-old son alone. Zarmina has faced many difficulties and has particularly struggled following her husband’s passing to provide food and shelter for herself and her son, as she had no means of income. After moving back in with her father, Zarmina was feeling very alone and most often worried about her son’s future.

She was selected as a beneficiary of Sweden-funded and FAO-implemented “Integrated emergency agriculture and livelihood assistance to food insecure farming families" project, and received necessary inputs to establish her own home garden and produce vegetables to improve her household food consumption and generate some income.

With the support provided by FAO, Zarmina is now not only using her home garden vegetables for household consumption, but is also able to sell the surplus to her neighbors and generate some income (an average of 1,000 AFN per month), which is largely helping her take care of herself and her son and pay for her son’s education in the future.

Ghor is one of the most food-insecure provinces in Afghanistan due to continued conflict, natural disasters and prolonged drought. According to IPC acute food insecurity analysis for Apr – May 2020, over 40% of the total population in the province has been estimated to be in IPC phase-3 (crisis) or above. Additionally, Afghanaid, FAO’s implementing partner in Ghor continued to observe high rates of negative coping strategies amongst the smallholder households following the 2019 drought. Families like Zarmina are amongst the most vulnerable people who are struggling to make ends meet, as they are left with no sources of income.

This challenging situation has been exacerbated by the economic impacts of COVID-19 as movement restrictions, transportation blockages, market shortages, and price rises have been reducing already very limited employment opportunities.

Afghanaid is implementing the emergency agriculture and livelihood assistance project supported by FAO, supporting 12,400 food-insecure farming families across Feruzkoh, Shahrak, Lal-wa-Sarjangal, and Dulaina districts of Ghor province. The project is delivered over a nine-month period (March – December 2020).

 

Thanks to the generous support from the Government of Sweden 3,200 vulnerable female-headed households are supported to bolster their livelihoods and improve their food and nutrition security through home gardening activities. After being selected as a project beneficiary, Zarmina received eight types of vegetable seeds (tomato, eggplant, okra, squash, cabbage, onion, and red radish), along with home gardening tools and related technical training in order to establish a home garden and start producing.

“Every day I was worried about how to find a job for myself and what would happen to my son and his future education. However, when I was selected as a beneficiary for this project and received vegetable seeds and tools, I became hopeful, and believed in myself that I can become self-sufficient”, said Zarmina.

“Now, my son, my father and I have a much better diet thanks to my vegetables, and I am also able sell the surplus to my neighbors”, expressed Zarmina.

 

With the income she is generating, she is confident that she will be able to save for her son’s education in the future.                

A total of 12 000 vulnerable smallholder farming households, including many other female-headed households such as Zarmina facing the impacts of COVID-19 on top of the existing food, nutrition and livelihoods insecurity are being supported by FAO with the generous support from the Government of Sweden in the provinces of Ghor, Daikundi and Uruzgan. This project, which commenced in March 2020 just after the start of COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan, will be completed by December 2020 wherein agricultural livelihoods will be safeguarded and resilience will be rebuilt through enhanced coping capacities and food and nutrition security of vulnerable smallholder farming households impacted by recent shocks including COVID-19 pandemic.