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Bilde: Our work: Food and work  
Foto: Halvard Hjermundrud

Our work: Food and work

Food security and job creation is about sustaining life. Access to sufficient, healthy food, employment and vital infrastructure is essential towards developing a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

Prosjekt/ onsdag 26. juli 2017

Understanding the context and responding appropriately – a collaborative process

Planning and conducting relevant and effective interventions depends on a clear understanding of the real situations Afghans experience and a careful analysis of communities’ needs as well as their strengths. NAC’s assessment of food and work related needs and opportunities, alongside the planning, implementation and monitoring of our programs depends on a participatory process which directly involves Afghan institutional and individual stakeholders. For example, in planning our work in agriculture in Ghazni province, NAC engaged in a process of market analysis, focused on the demand for almond and dried curd, in collaboration with agriculture students from the University of Ghazni’s Agriculture Faculty and the Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL).

Bilde: Our work: Food and work 
Foto: Halvard Hjermundrud

This collaborative assessment builds the capacity of Afghans to conduct their own analyses in future. To support this, NAC involves relevant stakeholders in regular consultation meetings, where accomplishments are shared, challenges discussed and collaborative solutions developed

Leading in farming

NAC’s lead farmer extension program supports communities to develop sustainable agricultural practices. NAC gives senior, female and male ‘lead farmers’ additional training and support to work with and mentor other farmers in their communities. Lead farmers have consulted on and supported in the development of fruit, vegetable and nut orchards – with practical training on irrigation, orchard management, pest management, composting, grafting and pruning, developing greenhouses, and fruit and vegetable processing.

Mohammad Ali, a farmer from Jaghori district, Ghazni province established an orchard on his land after training conducted by NAC. He is very hopeful about the future and said, ‘Now farmers are more aware of how to establish and design orchards on their land, farmers like me know how to take care of their orchards and how to improve them.’

NAC’s practically oriented support for farmers improves farmers’ planning and maintenance of their orchards and leads to significant improvements in harvests, as our agriculture teams help Afghan farmers in choosing the most relevant and sustainable crops for their land. Abdul Hamid, a farmer from Keshem district in Badakhshan explained, ‘I was growing wheat every year, and I was never getting satisfactory harvests. After getting advice and participating in NAC trainings, I started to grow mung beans because my land was not actually well suited for growing wheat. From the 21kg of seeds I was provided with this year, I produced 630kg of mung beans! I am very happy with this harvest and it will help my family and community a lot’.

Sustainable approaches to agriculture are not just about the practices of individual farmers, but are also dependent on reliable value-chains from seed to market. For example in 2016, NAC facilitated the connection of 785 small-hold farmers in Badakhshan and Ghazni with seed providers to ensure they have dependable access to quality seeds now and in the future.

As with assessments, NAC’s long-term vision is to use agriculture training and program implementation processes as a way of strengthening relationships between Afghan institutions and communities. To this end, in Badakhshan and Ghazni, a range of institutional stakeholders including participants from DAIL, the Department of Women Affairs (DoWA), university agriculture faculties, agriculture schools, District Development Assemblies (DDAs), and the National Horticulture and Livestock Program (NHLP) have been included in trainings to develop shared understandings of sustainable farming practices and better support the farmers in their communities.

Looking after the land - everyone’s responsibiliy

NAC’s fostering of environmentally sound stewardship of the land supports Afghan communities in reducing the prevalence and impacts of disasters such as flooding, droughts and landslides, while at the same time producing healthy and sustainable sources of food.

In both Badakhshan and Ghazni, NAC trains members of rural and hard-to-reach communities as well as agriculture school faculty and students, university faculty members, and relevant government ministerial staff, in sustainable forestry and watershed management.

To support better, and more sustainable land management and agricultural practices, NAC also focuses on making agriculture education more practical.

For example, in Ghazni City, NAC organized exposure visits for students and staff from the University of Ghazni’s Agriculture Faculty to visit the Rawza watershed and nature park and get practical experience in sustainable watershed management. Through this, participants learned how to prepare the land for planting and about the types of trees planted, as well as irrigation and other technical skills, such as the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS). These exposure visits also resulted in the development of a small, community park surrounded by a pristine reforested area where turtles, foxes and other wildlife have returned after decades of deforestation.

Another way NAC has made agriculture studies more practical, has been through the development of model farms for the agriculture faculties of the Universities of Badakhshan and Ghazni. These farms offer students and faculty opportunities to do participatory research and get hands-on experience of farming, applying their more theoretical classroom-based knowledge in practice. For a more detailed story about this, see page 20.

Building Afghan futures brick by brick

NAC supports communities in developing key infrastructure projects. On the one hand, these projects enable communities to survive and be more self-sufficient through small, but vital infrastructure such as wells and toilets, and on the other hand, they support communities to be connected with the outside world through larger scale initiatives such as the development and rehabilitation of roads.

NAC’s diverse infrastructure projects cover everything from laying irrigation pipes and rehabilitating canals to the development of school playgrounds, but they all seek to increase community engagement through involving local communities directly in planning and implementation. This both gives community members employment, and fosters a sense of ownership that leads to greater sustainability. 

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