Economic growth is mainly driven by agricultural production in Afghanistan. A near-stagnant agricultural GDP
has led to a decline in the sector’s share of total GDP
, from 71 % in 1994 to about 24 % in 2013. The sector employs 40 % of the total labor force, and more than half of the rural workforce, but the lack of development in the sector means this proportion of the population have not had the chance to improve their livelihoods. Poor agricultural livelihoods and underemployment are some of the main drivers of poverty, thus investment in this sector is key.
The government’s agricultural development strategy aims to create more resilient livelihoods in food staples such as cereals and livestock, as well as job creation in industrialization of horticulture and livestock. The Comprehensive Agriculture Development National Priority Program (CAD
) has been finalized, with the institutional reform pillar of the NPP
currently being implemented.
The ultimate goal is to increase wheat production, expand irrigated land, improve water and livestock management, increase horticulture capacity, and pursue reforestation. The success of the NPP
as a comprehensive program depends upon the reform pillar, moving the MAIL
towards becoming a more effective and farmer-centric institution. Note that most of the progress accounted for here is from programs that started implementation before the NPP
was conceptualized, but have produced results against goals articulated over the past 4 years.
Partially achievedand ongoing (3/7):43.0 Partially achievedand ongoing (3/7):43.0 %In process (4/7): 57.0 %In process (4/7): 57.0 %Partially achieved and ongoing (3/7)Percentage: 43.0
– Increasing investments in water management, with rehabilitation of more than 1,000 irrigation schemes, developing new irrigation networks and building small water reservoirs; PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going.
- By mid 2016, the total amount of land under irrigation was 2.4 million hectares, resulting in an additional 350,000 hectares of fertile land. This has allowed production to rise across the country, generating returns of $350-$400 per hectare.
- About 1,000 agricultural water management projects led to a 20-25% reduction in water losses of agricultural land in 2017, resulting in increased production for about 2.5 million villagers.
- Forty-two new water and hydropower projects are underway. Dams that are under construction can reserve over 2 billion cubic meters of water, which can irrigate 360 thousand hectares of lands. Notable projects include the Salma dam was completed in 2016, and has a storage capacity of 611 million cubic meters of water and generation of 42 MW power. Other key dams under construction include Shah-wa-Aroos in Kabul, Bakhshabad in Farah, and Kamal Khan in Nimruz.
- The On-Farm Water Management project (2011-2019) is implemented by the Ministry of Agricultural, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) with funding from the World Bank in 46 districts in 11 provinces, aimed at raising land productivity (wheat yield, ton/ha), water productivity (wheat yield for each volume of water used), and irrigated area through a more efficient irrigation system. An evaluation in 2016 found the following:
- The project had generated about 17,000 temporal jobs, many of them short-term and related to infrastructure.
- Productivity of agricultural crops in project areas increased by 30 percent, and water use efficiency improved by 25 percent.
- The project aimed to increase water productivity from 0.63 in 2011 to 0.75 in 2019, but had already reached 0.76 by 2016.
- Irrigated land increased 5 percent, short of the targeted 15 percent increase
- The project had increased land productivity and farmers’ incomes in project areas.
- Over the next five years, MAIL is committed to an accelerated rehabilitation and construction program of physical works. This will be driven by the National Irrigation Program (NIP) targeting increased production and productivity through irrigation and improved water management practices with a long-term focus to achieve pre-war irrigated land of 3.1 million ha in the next ten years.
– Implementing the national wheat program to increase yields to 26%, adding 110,000 hectares of land under cultivation, halving post-harvest losses, and developing a standardized wheat seed market; PROGRESS: – In process.
- Due to widespread drought across two-thirds of the country, and a decrease in the area of cultivated land, wheat production decreased from 4.55 metric tons in 2016 to 4.28 metric tons in 2017. Rice production also decreased from 2016 to 2017. Compared to neighboring countries, productivity of wheat per unit area is very low (2.5 metric tons per hectare on irrigated land, and 1 metric ton per hectare on rain-fed land as of 2016), amounting to a shortage of more than one million tons of wheat grain annually. Other issues exacerbating the shortage include the absence of adequate machinery for timely harvesting, threshing, processing and storage, resulting in losses of product by approximately 15-20 % in 2016 and 2017..
- To address the issues, National Wheat Program (NWP) was launched by MAIL in 2016, with aims to develop a sustainable wheat sector to achieve self-sufficiency, improve food security and better response in cases of emergency and crises across the country. It involves improving productivity, and will require taking a more pro-active approach in partnering with the private sector at one end, and facilitating farmers to achieve economies of scale through well-tailored agricultural packages at the other.
- Phase 1 of the NWP was implemented from 2016-2018 and was aimed at reducing the wheat yield gap. Existing technologies were further disseminated to farming communities through extension services, using a combination of Regional Research Stations and selected staff at the Provincial Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Department (PAIL) through the technical hub of Farmers Resource Centers (FRCs). It includes strengthening human resource capacity to conduct wheat research and seed production programs, in order to provide effective public services in a sustainable manner.
– Improving livestock management, applying phytosanitary entry criteria and WTO-allowed tariffs to prevent subsidized imports from competing with our smallholders; PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going.
- The National Livestock Development Program (NLDP) is currently being implemented by the MAIL, aimed at increasing production of fodder, dairy, meat and poultry and linking these to improved market access. MAIL is working to improve animal health, productivity and enhance the key role played by women in this sector. Progress was made in this sector over the past few years, including the following:
- Dairy production was enhanced through marketing, livestock reproduction, and a comprehensive dairy program implemented in partnership with UNAFO. Milk production is up to 5.1 million liters in 2016, as compared to 3.7 in 2015.
- Chicken meat produced domestically supplies 51% of the local consumption (93,000 tons).
- Fish farms increased by 250% with the domestic production reaching 7,000 tons per year.
- The agriculture and livestock sector was able to create jobs (day-to-day, long-term and short-term) for up to 2.25 million people between years 2015-17.
- Now more than 22% of the market demand is provided through domestic products, and agricultural production has grown 12.4% in 2016 compared to 2015.
– Increasing horticulture capacity from 180,000 to 230,000 hectares, supporting investments in value-chains, establishing export certification procedures, and increasing support to women-owned agri-businesses PROGRESS: – Partially achieved and on-going.
- As of 2017, 210,933 hectares of land are cultivated for fruit gardens in Afghanistan in 2017, up from 181,380 in 2016, and 5,204 hectares of land cultivated for saffron.
- Horticulture production has more than doubled over the past decade, (and this trend has continued in the past four year), from 6,689 million AFN in 2007, to 6,478 million AFN in 2016.
- The National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHIP) (2013-2018) has been improving rural livelihood opportunities for smallholder farmers through horticulture and livestock in all 34 provinces. The following progress has been made in this sector:
- Activities generate about 10,000 direct and indirect jobs. About half of beneficiaries are women. About 95,000 women benefit from NHlP activities, compared to 98,000 men.
- Horticulture extension activities have benefitted about 62,000 women and 78,000 men in 23 provinces. Women benefit most from livestock extension activities (33,000 women versus 20,000 men).
- Horticulture and fruit yields, as well as exports of horticulture products, increased by 7% in the past three years.
- In 2016, greenhouse produce reached 138,000 tons and provided 8,000 job opportunities after the government installed 7,400 greenhouses in 29 provinces.
- Honey production grew by 15% in 2016.
- Cotton and soybean production increased, and Afghanistan is projected to become the highest soybean producer in the region.
- Twenty-three processing and packaging centers with the capacity for 100 metric tons have been constructed and are in use by orchard owners, and 1,419 raisin-drying houses have been built and are in operation.
- The Agribusiness Charter (ABC) will build on this progress by expanding value-chain financing and access to digital financial services, while ensuring the sustainability and sound management of financial institutions. ABC is an inter-ministerial framework which coordinates new and existing investments in agribusiness to create jobs and stimulate growth. ABC will increase access to agricultural finance, availability of agro-industrial land, strengthen infrastructure for value-chain development, improve policy and regulatory environment for agribusiness growth, and most importantly, strengthen the ability of the government to perform the core functions that support these advancements. The ABC is still in the design phase but will launch this year, with new investments coming into the 2019 budget cycle.
- Agricultural lending is still very constrained, representing less than 3.5% of total bank lending. However, some micro-financing institutions and other financial institutions with specialized loan products for the agriculture sector have increased lending. Over 20,000 farmers have also been directly supported over the past three years through the provision of agricultural machinery, and loans worth $66 million.
- In addition, through the MAIL, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Private Sector Executive Council, business simplification reforms, development of air corridors and transport links, and investment in cold storage facilities and value-chain support are being implemented to increase agricultural exports, in line with the National Export Strategy.
– Rehabilitating the strategic grain reserve and establishing a Grain Reserve Board to support farmers PROGRESS: – In process.
- Community Grain Banks have been set up in close to 2,000 communities via the Citizen’s Charter program, to serve emergency food needs of the most vulnerable and poorest families. Further reserves are being set up.
– Expanding agroforestry and reforestation with over 60,000 hectares that support environmental conservation and income generation for farmers PROGRESS: – In process.
- A Natural Resource Management strategy is being implemented. The overall objective of the NRM strategy is to support sustainable economic development of communities which depend on natural resources (forests, rangelands, natural vegetation and ecological areas), create green environments, conserve soil, water, and protect biodiversity.
– Restructuring the Ministry of Agriculture to become a decentralized and farmer-centric institution that regulates and encourages private investments PROGRESS: – In process.
- The Comprehensive Agriculture Development National Priority Program (CAD-NPP) (2016-2020) document has been completed and different pillars of the program are in various phases of implementation. The goals are to increase wheat production, expand irrigated land, improve water and livestock management, increase horticulture capacity, and pursue reforestation.
- However, the success of the NPP as a comprehensive program depends upon the reform pillar, moving the MAIL towards becoming a more effective and farmer-centric institution. MAIL continues to place disproportionate emphasis on structure and focus at the center. This is further compounded by an absence of technical capacities and regulatory enforcement in the provinces and limited capacity and outreach of extension services at the district level. Addressing these key challenges, apart from rationalizing investment priorities, will require MAIL to refocus its efforts and to recalibrate its capacity and reform agenda, creating an enabling institutional strategy and a shift towards a program based structure. It is expected that normative programs will be reassessed and integrated in a broader framework that support the seven priorities.
- Minor reforms achievements have been made so far, including:
- Initiation of a policy intervention to harmonize common functions of projects and programs under one umbrella.
- Merging the core project HR and Procurement functions. Each projects’ procurement personnel were physically integrated into the Procurement directorate along with their office accessories.
- Development of a unified recruitment guideline.
- Implementing the Capacity Building for Results (CBR) program at MAIL, which is helping to reshape some of the workflows involved with personnel. Nonetheless it remains confined to improving personnel process management with limited impact.
- The Management Information system integration is in process.