“Agriculture is central to Afghanistan’s social and economic development, with the sector employing two-thirds of the country’s national workforce and contributing 21.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017,” said ADB Senior Natural Resources and Agriculture Economist Mr. Bui Minh Giap. “A major contributor to the sector is horticulture, with crops generating over USD1.4 billion annually representing 34% of agriculture’s total GDP. Supporting horticulture value chains will further boost the subsector’s contribution to the country’s development.”

Agriculture is central to Afghanistan’s social and economic development, with the sector employing two-thirds of the country’s national workforce and contributing 21.9% of GDP in 2017. (Source: ADB)

The Horticulture Value Chain Development Sector Project will improve agricultural productivity and food security in Afghanistan, while helping promote business linkages between agro-business enterprises and farmers. This will help boost growth in the subsector, which is mainly constrained by a large number of geographically scattered small-scale producers that lack access to finance as well as proper agriculture infrastructure and inputs.

For agro-business enterprises, the project will help provide pre-cooling rooms; packhouse, sorting, or grading buildings and equipment; storage facilities; processing equipment and machinery; a quality control accredited laboratory; tissue culture laboratory; and an introduction to international best practices for horticulture processing plants. As part of the risk-sharing mechanism and sustainable financial management of the project, selected enterprises will have to contribute 50% of subproject costs and implementation.

Eligible farmers, meanwhile, can benefit from the project through assistance for modern greenhouses; planting material; on-farm storage for onions and potatoes; facilities for growing grapes; on-farm processing, drying, and grading equipment; and on-farm water sources and distribution systems. A nongovernment organization will be engaged as the facilitation partner to promote linkages between enterprises and farmers.

The project will also improve the quality and scope of Afghanistan’s horticulture exports, particularly through research, incorporation of international best practices in the subsector, and the promotion of national marketing strategies for uniquely Afghan horticultural produce./.

Khac Kien