The invaluable expertise and experience of Afghanaid Managing Director Charles Davy and Trustee Orzala A. Nemat has been utilised alongside co-authors Nigel Poole, Rajiv Sharma, Richard Trenchard, Andrew Scanlon, Najibeh Ataei, Jason Donovan and Alison R. Bentley in a new report released today by the online research journal Plants, People, Planet. This much-needed report analyses the challenges facing agriculture in Afghanistan, the current deficiencies in the sector (widely regarded as the backbone of the Afghan economy), and proposes a research agenda to support the regeneration of the wheat and agricultural sector. 

With 80% of all livelihoods in Afghanistan dependent on agriculture, ensuring the survival and prosperity of the sector is instrumental to ensuring adequate food production and economic revitalisation. This June, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network reinforced this need after observing record-low precipitation in many parts of Afghanistan, which, coupled with lack of water for crop cultivation and low soil moisture, has caused a steep fall in already low wheat production. 

In the past few years, the “triple nexus of conditions of Covid-19, conflict and climate change has caused further deterioration in the situation of the rural populations.” This social, political and economic instability, exacerbated by the recent severe drought, has wreaked havoc on rural populations’ livelihoods, and resulted in 93% of Afghan families being unable to eat sufficient amounts of food each day. To combat this, the report recommends a broad set of strategic interventions to strengthen and secure agricultural livelihoods, acknowledging the multi-faceted approach that is required to facilitate real change in the country. Necessary interventions include: 

  • The genetic development of climate-resilient wheat crops
  • Optimising mechanisms for wheat milling
  • Developing knowledge bases in areas where there is an absence of information
  • Assessing and increasing knowledge on input, output and financial markets in the sector
  • Enhancing farmer engagement in seed information development 
  • Expansion of nature-based solutions on soil protection, irrigation systems and water preservation
  • Capacity building across all agricultural actors in seed distribution systems, including private, non-governmental and public stakeholders
  • Establishing a wheat industry multi-stakeholder platform to align incentives across the sector, and overcome common problems
  • Ensuring the inclusion of women in all agricultural systems

As the report highlights, aside from ameliorating the immediate food insecurity crisis evident in Afghanistan, the implementation of proactive measures such as this will enable Afghanistan “to reap the important and long-sought trade and food security benefits derived from self-sufficiency”, aiding recovery and resilience in the country.

Afghanaid’s agricultural projects already adopt this dynamic approach, and work where we can to establish pioneering techniques to strengthen the livelihoods of Afghan farmers. In the past three years, our agriculture projects have supported 87,727 farmers. Last year alone, we supported 5,373 farmers to improve their agriculture and livestock through access to better seeds, techniques, and irrigation systems, boosting productivity and strengthening resilience. We also champion the inclusion of women in rural income generation, whose agricultural work often goes unpaid.

Click here to read the full report.