For most farmers in Afghanistan, cash crops do not yield a high cash return, a problem compounded by the
Raising poplar saplings in Badakhshan Province.
fact that many farmers in a given area grow the same crops. This increases local competition and makes the produce more difficult to market. USAID is introducing timber and orchards in Badakhshan as an alternative to traditional vegetable farming and a way to break out of this cycle.
USAID is working with the Ministry of Agriculture to develop long-term agricultural methods that assist farmers in local communities gain financial independence. In Argo District of Badakhshan Province, USAID introduced farmers to the benefits of cultivating alternative, long-term crops and following up with specialized training on crop management and irrigation. The new crops have the potential for a higher financial yield than traditional crops of cauliflower, cucumber, cabbage, and tomato and offer farmers a profitable incentive to keep them from returning to poppy production.
The hybrid Poplar trees introduced to Badakhshan grow straighter and faster than indigenous Afghan Poplars and reach maturity in just five-years. Up until recently, however, farmers were unaware that the cultivation of poplars for market could be a viable cash-crop. There are approximately 30 USAID funded timber projects currently underway in the Argo District.
One farmer received 4,000 trees as a start-up. He sold his first yield of 500 trees at a profit of 37,000 Afghanis (approximately $822). He was very pleased with the results of his timber production and with the quality of the trees he is now growing. Word has spread and he now has a long list of people looking to buy his next crop of trees.
USAID is making a positive difference in Badakhshan by assisting farmers like this to become financially independent.
Money Does Grow on Trees