Afghanistan’s Agriculture is Ripe for Development Growth Yet Still Face Challenges: iMMAP Inc.-FSAC Report

Afghan farmers have persevered against climate and socio-political challenges. However, essential trainings are needed for them to flourish, and unlock Afghanistan’s agricultural potential.

An Afghani farmer during harvest. (Farshad Usyan/FAO)

A recent study conducted by the Afghanistan Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) and iMMAP Inc. sheds light on the vital role of agriculture sector in Afghanistan and how to improve the sector.  

Drawing on over 400 households' experiences, the study exposes a critical knowledge gap and absence of support mechanism to the farmers. Many farmers lack formal training, best practices aren't reaching them, and there's a lack of support systems to address daily challenges. While cereals and vegetables are stapled of Afghan agriculture, a staggering 36% of farmers haven't received a formal training on the best practices to cultivate cereals and vegetables. This information gap is compounded by practical hurdles: water scarcity, difficulties acquiring quality seeds, and limited financial resources. 

The study also highlights a male-dominated agricultural sector, reflecting rural social dynamics. However, women's participation, as reflected in numbers of survey respondents, suggests a room for growth in terms of women inclusion in rural economy.  

The geographic spread of respondents (urban, rural, peri-urban) underscores the diverse agricultural contexts across the country. Interestingly, the young average age (27.4 years) indicates a potentially receptive demographic for new techniques and long-term training commitment. 

It was revealed that it is a well-established agricultural sector, with most households (76%) rely on farming for their primary income.  Livestock rearing and non-agricultural employment provide additional income sources for many households, creating a buffer against agricultural uncertainties.  This diversification can be crucial, as agricultural yields can be impacted by factors outside of farmers' control, such as weather patterns, pest infestations, and market fluctuations. 

Afghan farmers face hurdles that impede their productivity and income potential.  Water scarcity, limited access to quality inputs, financial constraints, and market access, are primary challenges to their livelihoods. With agricultural training, particularly in areas like crop cultivation, water management, and financial literacy, farmers would be able to deploy new knowledge and techniques in their farming practices.   

Farmers overwhelmingly favor practical training delivered in short bursts. This creates a golden opportunity to develop targeted programs addressing the specific knowledge gaps and challenges identified in the study.  

Investing in agricultural training in Afghanistan presents a strategic opportunity to empower a vital sector, enhance food security, and promote rural development.  Closing the knowledge gap and building a support system presents a strategic opportunity for stakeholders to empower Afghan farmers, ultimately fostering a brighter future for their families and rural communities.