Nuristani livestock keepers beat a harsh winter

Nuristani livestock keepers beat a harsh winter

15/02/2021

FAO helps vulnerable livestock keepers safeguard their livelihood, boost milk production and avoid rural migration in Afghanistan

Landholding in Nuristan province of Afghanistan is for the few. The vast majority of Nuristan’s population rely on livestock production. However, due to climate change and weather extremes, making a living out of it can sometimes feel like finding one’s balance in tightrope walking.

Such was the case for Ziaur-Rahman, a farmer from Nuristan, in late 2019. The spill over effects of the severe drought in 2018 in Afghanistan challenged most livestock owners like him with a shortage of fodder, pasture and overall animal feed resources. Animal feed prices had increased between 50 to 80 percent.

“I was deeply concerned about the survival of my livestock during the harsh winter of Nuristan. At that time, the cost of the fodder needed to safeguard one cattle throughout the season was equivalent to the market price of that one cattle,” says Ziaur-Rahman.

Hence, most livestock keepers started destocking at very low prices or desperately selling all their animals. Incurring in debt was not an option either, since there wasn’t anyone or any institution to take the loan from.

As a consequence, they were losing their livelihood in exchange of short-term liquidity to satisfy their family’s most immediate food needs. Deprived of their livelihood, many livestock keepers were therefore headed with no remedy towards nearby cities like Asad Abad, Jalalabad and Mehterlam, where informal wage labour would be their only means of subsistence.