“If we had not received these seeds, we would have lost hope” - A story from Northern Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world in terms of conflict and natural disasters. Last year, it experienced one of the worst droughts in decades. Hundreds of thousands of people left their villages after crops failed to grow and their livestock had perished. In Sar-e-Pul province, one the provinces severely affected by the drought, ZOA helped farmers protecting their livelihoods.

One of the farmers who had to deal with last year’s severe drought is Najibullah. He lives in Ashor Abad village with seven family members. Najibullah cultivates around six jeribs (a little more than an acre) of irrigated lands and is usually busy with farming and livestock. The farmer sighs when he looks back on 2018: ‘I have never seen a drought as bad as the one last year. The pastures dried up, the price of fodder increased, the streams ran dry and even lands that we had irrigated went dry. Some farmers even left their donkeys and livestock in the desert because they couldn’t feed them anymore.’’

Helping farmer communities to deal with drought

Through various ways, ZOA helped communities like Najibullah’s to cope with the drought. With support from the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), ZOA distributed wheat seeds and fertiliser and gave training to the farmers to enhance their knowledge about new trends in agriculture. The farmers were taught how to prevent their crops from being destroyed by pests and diseases. ZOA also trucked water to assist the most vulnerable families. In this way, we prevented that farmers would sell their remaining livestock and other assets at low prices and move to other areas where they hope to find income.

Seed, fertilizer and a training on agriculture

Najibullah remembers that he and his family literally consumed everything they had in store. Najibullah often worried that there would not be any seeds left to sow next year. He did not have any money left to buy wheat or other seeds for cultivation. In this critical situation, ZOA together with the FOA reached out to the family. Najibullah received 50kg wheat seed and fertilizers. He also followed a training on land preparation, harvesting methods, seed planting fundamentals and water management.

The situation in Afghanistan is still volatile. However, it is likely that Najibullah will be able to harvest his wheat, store some seeds for next year and will have enough fodder for his livestock for the winter season.

The project was funded by the Food & Agriculture Organization in Afghanistan.

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Click here to read more about our programme in Afghanistan.