In Afghanistan, 80% of the population rely on agriculture for their income, the majority of whom are small-scale farmers. Although they face increasingly hostile climate conditions such as droughts and floods - which in recent years have decimated Afghanistan's already-struggling agricultural industry - these men and women form the backbone of Afghan society, often responsible for feeding their whole families and their communities. 

A worrying report by the ClimateShot Investor Coalition (CLIC) and the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) highlighted last week how climate finance towards small-scale agrifood systems has gone down by 44%, now equating to less than 1% of overall climate finance.

Without global intervention and sustained support to rejuvenate food systems affected by climate change, small-scale and subsistence farmers across the world risk being left without much-needed support, despite producing one third of the world's food, and up to 70% of food in low and middle income countries. These small scale food systems are a lifeline for remote, rural communities who do not have access to larger food outlets, and these farm producers are often more able to prioritise the local needs of their respective communities. 

Without targeted support to adapt to climate change, these producers, who are less able to access the capital needed to make necessary changes to their land or agricultural systems, face substantial risks to their lives and livelihoods.

This trend is extremely worrying. We are going in the wrong direction. Small-scale farmers, who feed entire communities and nations in the developing world, need to be able to adapt to climate change now. If they don’t, their lives and livelihoods - and global food security - are at risk.

Alvaro Lario, IFAD President.

How does this affect Afghan farmers?

Small-scale farmers across Afghanistan are already facing the dire realities of climate change, unable to grow enough crops, store water effectively, feed their livestock, and protect their land. With average temperatures in the country already rising by 1.5 degrees Celsius since 1950, it is clear that global warming plays and will continue to play a huge role in determining food security over the next few decades.

Already stretched to breaking point, if the smaller-scale farmers who populate rural Afghanistan are not supported to weather the effects of the worsening climate crisis, the impacts will be devastating. National food systems are at huge risk of collapsing, exacerbating an already dire food security crisis, where over 15 million currently are grappling with acute food insecurity, and millions face malnutrition. 

Over the past few years, successive droughts, deadly flash floods, and variable weather patterns have particularly decimated rural smallholdings like Taj Mohammad's and Haji Nasruldeen's, severely diminishing their ability to earn an income. Without targeted Eco-DRR and agricultural support from Afghanaid, these farmers would have been unable to adapt to the increasing droughts and floods, and would've been displaced from the communities they call home.

By prioritising interventions such as the transformation of soil, arable land, forests and irrigation systems, livelihood diversification, and training in updated agricultural techniques, our climate adaptation projects ensure that small scale farmers across rural provinces are better equipped to navigate Afghanistan's changing climate, and are more resilient to disasters when they do occur. 

Women-led climate action 

The deprioritisation of small-scale farmers in global climate finance initiatives has also hit female farmers particularly hard. Despite making up 40% of the agricultural workforce in developing nations, women across the world who engage in farming work are often ignored by larger agricultural programmes, as they typically do not own the land on which they rely, and often engage in unpaid labour.

Thus, it is crucial that climate finance initiatives aiming to protect rural agricultural workers have specific interventions to ensure female farmers are supported to counteract the unique challenges they face. Through support programmes such as distributing improved seeds and delivering training to small-scale farmers, we can also ensure female farmers like Maria (pictured) are supported to continue to earn an income and provide for their families amidst the climate crisis. Better able to withstand harsh drought conditions, crop diseases and pests, as well as more likely to produce strong yields, certified wheat seeds provide a lifeline to rural farming communities in Afghanistan, and enabled Maria's wheat farm to thrive despite these environmental challenges. She told us:

Afghanaid provided me with 50 kg of certified wheat seed... along with technical training on wheat harvest cultivation. This finally helped me overcome the challenges I faced during the wheat harvest...Without this support, I would now be in a critical economic situation. However, now I am able to cultivate any kind of plant in our land.

Find out about how Afghanaid is supporting women-led climate action in Afghanistan

How can we help?

During COP28, we urge the international community to prioritise support for these important farming communities, to ensure they are able to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Unless rural farmers are supported to earn an income and feed their families in the face of a changing climate, whole communities will be at greater risk of severe hunger and absolute poverty, which will only worsen as the climate crisis continues. Whilst official representation from Afghanistan is missing from the conference for the third year running, it is vital that other Afghan voices, such as those who can represent the pressing concerns of remote, rural communities in Afghanistan, are given the platform to share their concerns and advocate for themselves among the international community.

With your support, we can ensure male and female farmers can build their resilience and bring sustainable, climate-friendly solutions to their communities:

Please select a donation amount (required)
Set up a regular payment Donate