A poultry farmer in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, a beneficiary of Aga Khan Foundation's Enterprise Development Project.
Photo: AKF / AfghanistanThe destruction of the agricultural infrastructure and a lack of training during the years of war in Afghanistan have severely hampered the country’s ability to feed itself. Compounding this problem are the market distortions caused by the drug trade, which have led farmers to abandon production of certain foods and gravitate towards production of opium. Until recently in northern Afghanistan, for example, most eggs were imported from Pakistan.
“Too often, the various actors go about their business without enough reference to one another. The result often reminds me of an orchestra made up of talented and dedicated artists – but playing from different scores. The result is not harmony but cacophony – and an unevenness of public impact which is inherently unfair.”
Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Enabling Environment Conference, Kabul, Afghanistan, 4 June 2007 The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) recognised that it had to develop sustainable alternative livelihoods for a large number of rural Afghans whose incomes depended on opium poppy cultivation. In 2005, AKF launched a pilot project in the poultry sector in Badakhshan. AKF’s Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) believed that commercial poultry had great potential as a sustainable alternative livelihood for a large number of people. By early 2007, the success of the EDP efforts was marked by the complete substitution of imported eggs by local production. Moreover, EDP subsidies were no longer required.
EDP’s strategy also involves reviving traditional crafts and industries such as weaving, silk production, carpet making and handicrafts; and developing profi table enterprises around local resources including poultry, honey, gems, cashmere, apricots, agriculture inputs, and processing for seed multiplication and dairy production. Vocational training includes carpentry, computer and English skills, tin metalwork, hairstyling, wooden pot making and tailoring.
The programme is coordinated with many other AKDN activities in Afghanistan. Since 2002, AKDN has mobilised over US$ 700 million for the development of Afghanistan.
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