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A national horticulture sector survey on the state of Afghan horticulture was conducted in spring, 2003 by a team of 90 national technicians and 1 international survey coordinator in 1 808 villages in 327 districts and all 32 provinces, covering more than 99 percent of the representative horticultural areas in the whole country.

This booklet contains a summary of the field survey data analysis and provides main findings and conclusions. It is accompanied by a CD-Rom, which provides the electronic version of the booklet with hyperlinks to the databases, a compendium of all the essential technical data collected at the district and province level.

At the beginning of the war in 1979, the horticultural sector was one of the pillars of the Afghan economy because it was contributing over 40 percent to total export earnings due to the production of quality fresh and dry fruits. This sector utilized only 6 percent of the total cultivated land and about 12 percent of permanently irrigated crops. The following 25 years of war and civil strife contributed dramatically to the decline of the sector, which destroyed orchards and nurseries as well as most of the irrigation systems and infrastructures. Consequently, the post-harvest technology and marketing channels were completely disrupted. In addition, the recent four years of drought contributed to the almost total collapse of the horticulture sector, which is based on fruit, nut and vegetable production.

In 1996, FAO carried out a national survey of the horticulture sector in 79 districts, which covered 7 000 villages. The results indicated that in spite of the conflict situation, which considerably impeded production and marketing activities, there was an increased interest from farming communities in developing horticultural cash crops. Due to the end of the war, we are now in the rehabilitation phase in which the horticulture sector will play a critical role in rebuilding the agricultural industry.

In 2003, in response to this need, the Italian Voluntary Contribution to the Immediate and Transitional Assistance Programme (ITAP) 2002/2003 in Afghanistan project (OSRO/AFG/212/ITA) funded this Afghanistan Survey of the Horticulture Sector 2003 of the current state and condition of orchards, vineyards, nut plantations and vegetable crop production throughout Afghanistan. This Survey was one of the eight projects within this Italian contribution.

It should also be stressed that this Survey has been accomplished despite adverse climatic and dangerous security conditions, which frequently hampered the regular execution of activities in the country.

Most of the information gathered in this Survey refers to technical aspects such as the species grown, existing genetic resources, occurrence of calamities, irrigation and crop management. It is expected that this information will provide a basic tool for strategic planning and for the development of medium- to long-term projects and programmes.

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