Greenhouses could hold the key to tackling Afghanistan’s food shortages

While Afghanistan continues to import a large proportion of its most basic food needs, ACTED is working in Samangan province to help rural women become effective small-scale producers through the construction of greenhouses. Such projects have a range of proven benefits, offering greater resilience to shifting weather patterns, and giving women a sense of purpose and independence in areas where such opportunities are in short supply.

Contributing to 25% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), agriculture holds the potential to be a main driver of economic growth in Afghanistan
of Afghans derive at least part of their income form agriculture activity

I wished I could help my husband, but I didn't have the knowledge or the skills to do so

Jeena - Project Participant

Jeena, 43, lives in Sarqia Uzbaki village, in a rural area of Samangan province. Her family of six relies almost exclusively on the income of her husband which he earns through his work as a farmer.

For some time the household has struggled to cover its daily expenses. “I wished I could help my husband, but I didn’t have the knowledge or the skills to do so,” said Jeena.

Jeena, along with other project participants tend to their crop in the greenhouse

As one of the main sector of activity and source of income for afghan population, the agriculture sector holds a great potential to reduce poverty and unemployment in rural parts of the country. Whilst the participation of women in the agricultural labour force has significantly increased in the last decade, the majority of Afghan women in rural areas still lack necessary skills to engage in the workforce and have a very limited access to work skills trainings.

Greenhouses - Both profitable and easy to manage

As a means of creating more livelihoods opportunities in a sector which could respond to the wider needs of rural communities, in February 2019, ACTED established 8 greenhouse in Aybak and Hazrat El Sultan districts. ACTED brought in the support of 200 local women, who were divided into groups of 25, each group being responsible for a single greenhouse.

ACTED staff then delivered three training sessions covering: cultivation methodologies, green house management, post-harvesting, and the use of fertilizers (among others).

Project participants also benefited from the provision of agriculture inputs and equipment so that they could begin cultivation without delay, nor a need to draw upon their own resources. ACTED also made efforts to facilitate their access to local markets so they could easily sell their products through linking the groups with those who could provide transport and market spaces.

Jeena and other project particiants with their harvested produce

Following ACTED’s intervention Jeena, along with other project participants, is now selling cucumbers and tomatoes at the local market. Her family income has increased and she was thus able to cover the higher costs associated with Ramadan celebrations.

“I am happy I can finally contribute to the family expenses, especially during this holy month of Ramadan,” said Jeena

Thanks to the greenhouses, the new groups will be able to sustain the growing season throughout the winter ensuring that seasonality has a minimal impact upon their activities.

I am happy I can finally contribute to the family expenses, especially during this holy month of Ramadan