USAID/Roots of Peace
Said Agha from Shamali Plain in Kabul Province looks on to his new crop, soon to be harvested. His income has increased by 50 percent for the vines he has trellised.
Afghans have been cultivating grapes for thousands of years. More than 50 varieties of table grapes are grown in the country. Grapes are vital for hundreds of thousands of Afghan farmers but the decades of conflict and turmoil have left their vineyards in bad shape. Before the conflicts, Afghan raisins commanded up to a 40 percent market share of the world markets. Advancements that have pushed this industry forward in other parts of the world were not implemented here. Yields remain low and quality is poor. Grapes are the number one crop for Afghanistan in terms of number of farms, but the generated income is low.
USAID introduced trellising to Afghanistan in 2004, and is now helping upgrade 6,550 vineyards with current best practices and vineyard trellising. Trellises are essentially a set of horizontal wires that support the structure of the vines. By lifting the vines off the ground and providing supports for the vines to follow, farmers can produce more grapes at a much higher level of quality.
The trellised vineyards experienced a 54 percent increase in yields the first year, and 107 percent the second year. The average farmer in Afghansitan has a vineyard that is 0.5 hectare. By working with USAID, these farmers see their income grow from approximately $2,800 to $5,700. USAID subsidizes the trellis posts for the first jerib with most farmers paying half the cost of the posts. The USAID subsidy amounts to about $650 for 0.2 hectare. Overall, USAID will install trellising in 6,550 vineyards at a subsidy cost of $4.3 million.
Said Agha is one of many grape farmers who used the traditional method. He was losing 50 percent of product due to poor ventilation and physical damage of the grapes lying on the ground. Now, with the help of USAID, he has trellised his vineyard and this year, he is expecting his income to increase by 50 percent. USAID has helped 15 additional farmers in his village. He now claims that the “wonder fruit” of the Shamali Plain will help to bring hope and prosperity to his country.
Trellising Gives Cornucopia of Grapes