Rural women in Afghanistan: milk farmers, mushroom producers — and more

A set of three videos explores how FAO projects in rural Afghanistan are helping rural farmers — and women in particular — to help themselves.

“I started giving my child this food at six months because my milk wasn’t enough,” says Hasiba. “My child became healthy and gained weight.


“Previously I didn’t own animals and I had a lot of economic problems,” says Hamida, a dairy farmer from Chelgazi, a village in the Balkh province of northern Afghanistan. “I was dependent on others.”

Hamida is one of several Afghan women and men to be featured in a suite of videos released by FAO. The videos, released in April 2017, showcase the Organization’s work in rural Afghanistan, focusing on food security, nutrition and livelihoods, as well as on dairy industry development, irrigation rehabilitation and management.

“Before the Balkh Dairy Union it was hard to sell the milk,” explains Hamida in Afghanistan’s Milky Way, the first of the videos. “If I sold it from the house, some days no one came and the milk went to waste. With the dairy union, I have no problems selling my milk.”

Some 8 000 Afghan milk farmers, mostly women, were introduced to the dairy business through a cooperative movement launched by FAO in 2002. The movement, which is based on cooperative-managed enterprises, has been expanding steadily. The dairy market is growing by 10 percent per year, and average farmer income from selling surplus milk has increased from US$130 in 2003, to US$817 in 2015. Women receive over 85 percent of the milk money, which they spend on more nutritious food for their families, as well as other key needs. “I spend my milk money on things like notebooks and pens and private lessons for my children’s future,” says Hamida proudly.

In another of the videos, Earning and learning for Afghan women, we meet Fahima, Maryam and Hasiba, each of whom has benefited from FAO initiatives focused on vegetable processing, mushroom production and complementary feeding practices for improved child nutrition.

“Before the project, our income was very low, and now it is a little bit better,” explains Fahima, a mother of three. “The income we get from processing vegetables helps our lives.”

“I learned complementary feeding from FAO,” says Hasiba, a young mother who is separated from her husband. “I started giving my child this food at six months because my milk wasn’t enough. My child became healthy and gained weight.”

Click on the following links to watch the videos: