Atiq Ullah used to plant his crops without considering how much seed he needed to maximize his land’s productivity. He never paid attention to when his crops needed to be cultivated—they were often cultivated too early, too late or, occasionally, at the right time. The challenges Atiq encountered were not the result of carelessness, but a lack of knowledge about proper agriculture techniques.
For farmers in Afghanistan, this type of agricultural uncertainty is being replaced with a commitment and witness to change.
In December 2012, Atiq Ullah and selected farmers were trained in different agricultural techniques through a PWS&D-supported project in Laghman Province. Farmers learned how to prepare the land for planting, plant seed and water fields, control pests and use fertilizers to grow healthy crops.
“After attending this training, I realized that we have been wasting much of our resources,” says Atiq. The farmer shared that the trainings have helped him better organize the sequence of activities from cultivation to harvesting, which results in better crop yields and saves time and valuable resources.
Atiq has since reported a 90 per cent increase in his yield. “Before this training and getting healthy seeds, I cultivated 420 kilograms of crop from my land. Now my crops look twice as healthy. I can easily say that I will harvest 800 kilograms from the same land.”
In addition to trainings, Atiq is among 1,200 farmers who received subsidized wheat seeds, urea and fertilizers (each farmer contributed 50 per cent of the cost, with the proceeds being used to benefit an additional 900 farmers during subsequent trainings). The support was also a relief to farmers, for whom the burden of securing money or loans to pay for seeds and fertilizers was lifted.
Through the project, farmers are also encouraged to help reduce food shortages and support their communities’ agricultural development by sharing their best practices with others.
Atiq Ulah is eager for other farmers to experience similar growth of crops, “As I have observed the change in my crop, now I will be teaching the same skills to other farmers in my village. I will ask for the shura’s (religious council) help if necessary and promote best practices for overall improvement of the agricultural situation in [Laghman].”