#sfrome: Afghanistan's poor farmers struggle to access markets (188)

By P. J. Bury

Gulla Jan Ahmadzai introduced us to the at time tough conditions for small Afghan farmers to increase their living standards through increased productivity, diversity and access to markets. Road conditions; a lack of consolidation of farmers associations (cooperatives, associations and federation); insufficient adequate product storage to influence and respond to market demands; and a lack of collaboration with intermediary traders and exporters do not favor the realization of their aspirations. Even IFAD itself, supporting them, has difficulties in identifying local context adjusted mechanisms to assist them in their endeavour.
Gulla presents and a lively exchange of experiences and suggestions ensues with among others colleagues working in similar environments like Kosovo.

Gulla will remain in touch with the 8 participants, send them the presentation and exchanged contact details.

Some notes on the discussion

  • Similar issues in Bosnia
  • Advise services to farmers are private in Afghanistan
  • Dairy projects, goats, poultry, training are donations
  • Trained para-vet at district level, 10 para-vet in each district, trained
  • Integrated dairy scheme
  • Micro finance: small donations
  • Loans provided by IFAD, people not keen in getting loan against interest
  • Conditions for the sharia loan: sharia production. Loan is given, pay back a % on benefits made. If no benefit is made, only the loan itself is to reimbursed
  • IFAD works with 4 implementing partners 
  • Project area about 500.000 ha.
  • No processing included, no storage facility, off-season problems
  • Example mellon to Pakistan exported in season and comes back more expensive to Afghanistan from Pakistan in off-season
  • Sugar cane is not processed, exported and Afghanistan imports sugar
  • Much is still in piloting stage, no loans provided up to know 

Storage for off-season responding to demand
  • No off-storage does not allow meeting demand constantly, dispersed production doesn’t provide scale to invest in storage 
  • Bosnia exchanges experiences on storage, gradually improving through much external support (including fresh fish and berries, starting with milk production in UHT)
  • Traditional storage experiences IFAD works in 7 provinces, does not involve importers / exporters in project design (as IFAD does in Jemen and Jordan) 
  • Cooling facilities for milk products are not big enough to cater for other products 
  • Cooperative movements could address dispersed production and addressing dealing with private sector (Participant shares experience in Latin America) : farmer organizations are interested in investing this. 
  • Consolidation of cooperative movement seems hampered by levels of education? 
  • Ethiopia example of unions and federation of cooperatives, who then get access to bank loans 
  • No processing facilities to add value 
  • ICT can be used to increase market information: by voice or SMS 
Suggestion to increase information on markets, demand, fluctuation of prices
  • Look into traditional information channels 
  • Grapes a promising product, dry with solar 
  • Government strategy is weak because of political history 
  • Only policy existing is for grain, still in draft 
  • ILEIA suggestion: work more on cooperatives 
  • ICT , paper by Jensen on fishermen in Kerala using cellphone, initially the richer people. Benefits are higher to them than the cost of the cellphone and its use. (paper can be made available, see list of participants). 
  • In higher density areas people can benefit from only a few phones If they are organized they can influence the market prices.