Thanks to Muqeem Shah Miakheel for your contribution – perhaps we can work together to bring about the changes you propose for Afghanistan.
My friend Sirajul from BRAC Agriculture Programme has highlighted the nutri-garden model for year-round production of fruits and vegetables cultivation. It is an exciting opportunity.
I am working in Afghanistan, where seasonality is a major challenge: there are parts of Afghanistan where little or nothing grows for 3, 4, 5 or even 6 months of the year due to cold and snow.
Actually I am writing from Edinburgh in Scotland, which is 400 miles north of where I live in the south-east of England, and the differences of seasonality were something I was talking about this morning with research colleagues: the growing season up here is much shorter than in England, and the range of crops that can be cultivated is much smaller. Seasonality affects agriculture and limits what can be tried.
So my question in relation to this forum is: in what ways does seasonality affect women in agriculture in other parts of the world?
I was excited to read Abdul Mazid’s contribution on OFSP and other bio-fortified crops. These have real potential to improve nutrition, and can be implemented through working with women. I know of other work done in Africa on OFSP, and of the BRAC efforts to promote OFSP in Bangladesh.
Abdul Mazid seems to point to the difficulties of promotion of novel crops, creating nutritional awareness, and gaining consumer acceptance. Are there any short-cuts to accelerate this process and ensure success? What is required?
I have recently finished reporting on work in Burkina Faso on the contribution of tree products derived from baobab, shea and néré to rural livelihoods in Burkina Faso. We wanted to identify and understand the social and environmental factors influencing the utilization of tree products by rural households for home consumption and commercialization, and to explore the contribution of tree products to food security.
We focused on the roles and responsibilities of women for tree product utilization, which we found to differ between tree species, and with household composition. This we think was due to contrasting ecological contexts and evolving social mores. We found no evidence of conflict within households about tree product management and utilization - decision making processes were negotiated and consensual in both regions, even though gender rights and roles were clearly demarcated.
Nevertheless, we concluded that domestication and dissemination of tree planting and regeneration technologies, and tree product processing and marketing initiatives, definitely need a gendered and tree-specific approach in order to build on local norms and capacities - particularly of women.
An extensive report is available at:
And an article is forthcoming in the journal Environmental Conservation:
Poole, N., Audia, C., Kaboret, B. and Kent, R. (2016 forthcoming). Tree products, food security and livelihoods: a household study of Burkina Faso. Environmental Conservation.
I can send a copy to anyone interested if you contact me at email@example.com.
Following Barnali's comments on women's involvement in fruit and vegetable production...
I was at a research conference in London on Monday and posed an argument that kitchen gardens for better nutrition don't need much new research - we know that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is really important, probably among most populations and in most countries.
However, I think an important question is about women's involvement in such enterprises and perhaps the potential for empowerment. How kitchen garden development proceeds is more complicated than production models. I worry about the patterns of utilization of kitchen garden products, opportunities for marketing, and I would like to ask if there is any experience of kitchen gardens that do lead to better incomes, better household nutrition, successful commercial marketing - and female empowerment.
More on poultry:
I was delighted to have further correspondence with Mr Mohammad in Kabul about the project in northern Afghanistan.
I like the focus on capacity building and women, and believe that the model is exciting. I hope it can be extended more widely. The winter food problem for poultry in harsh conditions such as northern Afghanistan is an interesting one. I don't know much about hydroponic forage, but it seems to be a successful solution. The results for food scavenging systems are interesting - my thoughts err towards extensive rather than intensive systems at the household level.
I would be interested to know any differences between districts close to Mazar and those further away. Access to markets is usually so important. It is also good to see how appropriate the system is for women in Afghanistan, because it is a system that they can control within the household/home, and leads to empowerment. I would like to know if women can be involved in the marketing, and maybe the extent to which this is changing. These are probably long-term issues.
It will be good if you can post your recommendations.
Thank you to Muqeem Shah Miakheel for news of your survey work in Jalalabad. Please can you upload the report on obesity?
I was excited to see the two contributions concerning Afghanistan and poultry production for women. They seem to present contrasting experiences, so it would be good to hear more:
Comment to Paul Rigterink: it seems that the first stage of your proposal was implemented. How successful was it? Can you comment further?
Secondly, I am more intrigued by the failure in implementation of the subsequent large-scale proposals. Can you say why the ideas were not carried forward? Lots of other questions spring to mind about such initiatives:
- Who were the women targeted?
- What level of resources was given, and was lack of resources a reason for not adopting the large-scale production initiative?
- What level of complementary services and training was provided?
- Were markets for poultry products easily accessible?
- Did policy makers have other priorities?
And fundamentally, did the concept transfer well from Africa to Afghanistan? I have conducted some policy research among food system stakeholders in different parts of Afghanistan and found that they are aware of the importance of considering ideas from other countries, but that projects cannot easily be copied from countries where the contexts differ.
Thanks also to Mohammad Jafar Emal for sharing your article on backyard poultry production. I was impressed that poultry production was seen as one element of an agricultural growth strategy, and not the only solution; and then, that income gained was reinvested in other economic enterprises and thus multiplied among individuals, households and in the local economy – at least to some extent.
In the introduction you have pointed out important technical factors which make poultry production a suitable enterprise. What do you think, Paul?
Can I ask another couple of questions: was location near to Mazar an important factor for success in Balkh? How successful was the project in Jauzjan and more remote areas?
And more importantly for this forum, please can you explain in greater detail about the level of control that the women beneficiaries had over production, marketing and reinvestment of the income?
Are there any other experiences out there that will help us to understand more about the potential and limitations for poultry production among women?