BACKGROUND AND ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT
Agriculture is the foundational basis of Afghan society. Approximately 80% of the population is engaged in agriculture directly or in secondary or tertiary activities. It is in this sector that the future of Afghanistan’s wealth and potential for capital accumulation resides. While some of Afghanistan’s former agricultural infrastructure have been restored, considerably more, remains to be done. Lack of agriculture technology, infrastructure, and difficulty in accessing markets by farmers still remain as challenges in the sector. This is in spite of the enormous potential of agriculture as the sector that can drive economic growth.
These challenges and dependence of rural households on low-value crops on scarce arable land and their vulnerability to increasingly severe droughts and floods due to climate change adversely contribute to viability of opium poppy cultivation as an easily marketable and drought-resistant option. Having said this, it also presents an opportunity as farmers, producers, and processors and traders are demanding increased support from the government, realizing the potential of agriculture as a viable economic option if provided with the requisite technologies and infrastructure.
The Community Based Agriculture and Rural Development (CBARD) project funded by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) aims at supporting improved household income reducing dependency on illicit cultivation / production in 30 selected communities in Farah and Badghis provinces. The project objective is to prove the viability of high-value agricultural-based interventions in improving local economies of Badghis and Farah as a sustainable alternative to illicit crop cultivation. The project has two outputs; (i) Local production of, and market for, high-value crops improved; (ii) Community-based agro-business infrastructure are built, developed, and/or strengthened. The project will be implemented by MAIL as part of the ministry’s Agro-based Community Resilience and Livelihood Improvement Programme (ACRLIP). The programme supported by UNDP, provides a framework for increased cohesion of policies, strategies, and results of the ongoing and future joint interventions between MAIL and UNDP.