News / Economy

    Americans Work to Modernize Afghan Agriculture

    Two Afghan women water the soil at the Qalat Department of Women's Affairs, in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan, May 8, 2011
    Two Afghan women water the soil at the Qalat Department of Women's Affairs, in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan, May 8, 2011

    Agriculture is the mainstay of Afghanistan’s economy, although only about 12 percent of the country’s land is suitable for farming. Insecurity and droughts have also hindered the country’s agricultural success, as has the lack of modern farming techniques. An American university has teamed up with one in Kabul to help update agricultural teaching methods.

    The sound of a thresher in the wheat fields of eastern Afghanistan. Farmer Gholam Nabi got the machine only two years ago. Nabi says it is not easy for Afghan farmers to afford machines like this.

    The government does not help us get machinery, he says. It does give us some seeds, he adds, but not enough. Nabi says the thresher has speeded up his harvest, and he believes introducing modern farming methods is the way to for Afghanistan’s farmers to become more profitable.

    “If we want someone to restrain the sheep, we hold the back of the head and under the chin,” said American Sophia Wilcox. Wilcox is from US Purdue University. She is working at Kabul University with Afghan agriculture professors and students.

    “We work here to improve the efficiency and production, modernize some of the skills and technology so these students can go on and build a much stronger foundation for agriculture in Afghanistan,” she explained.

    Classroom study has been upgraded to include modern biology and other sciences.

    And there’s a student farm, with live sheep and chickens, including an American poultry breed Wilcox imported herself -- the Leghorn. There are also fields, where students farm the land, learning how deep to plant a seed, and how often to water it. Wilcox says agriculture is crucial to Afghanistan’s future.

    “Eighty-five percent of income comes from agriculture, and the whole economy of Afghanistan is not industrialized as much as it is agriculture and agricultural products,” said Wilcox.

    Despite Afghanistan’s dependence on agriculture and the improved academic program at the university, the Afghan faculty says it is difficult to attract students. Agriculture professor Ewaz Khan says Afghans who have passed the university entrance exams choose other subjects, like journalism and or law.

    Khan says students should pay attention to our department, too, because Afghanistan is an agricultural country. “We need to encourage people to join this faculty,” he said.

    Farming is largely seen here as a subsistence business, long hindered by decades of war.

    Even though insecurity remains a problem in parts of Afghanistan, much of the country is experiencing freedom of movement and commerce the nation has not enjoyed in a generation. And there is the prospect that farming could become much more profitable.

    This month (June) a new transit agreement between landlocked Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan means Afghan farmers can truck their goods directly to India or China, shaving days of transit time and opening up new markets for produce.  


    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8769
    JPY
    USD
    107.28
    GBP
    USD
    0.6842
    CAD
    USD
    1.2528
    INR
    USD
    66.384

    Rates may not be current.