Trees of Hope This is the name we have given to our fruit plantation training project, which our Herat team is starting up. The harshest winter (2008) in living memory particularly affected this region of Afghanistan, costing many lives...
Livestock also froze to death and a considerable number of the region’s fruit trees, particularly the pomegranate trees, fell victim to the frost. That has affected, or in some cases completely destroyed, the livelihoods of many local people.
Working with a Dutch tree nursery and with support from the Dutch government, we now have the opportunity to plant new fruit trees on roughly 200,000 square metres of land in the provinces of Herat, Kabul and Badakhshan. However the aim of this project is not just to plant fruit trees that will stand up to the harsh climate. We will also be training 50 fruit tree specialists over the next 24 months. They can then in turn pass on their knowledge and expertise to other regions.
In the second year of the project, we will also be tackling another problem: how to store the fruit. At the moment, most fruit is sold off cheaply at harvest time to neighbouring countries, only then to be re-imported a few months later for much higher prices. In order to introduce a change here, we are now building storehouses and our staff are training Afghans in how to prepare and store the fruit so that it can be kept for sale later.
This form of helping others to help themselves promises to be extremely sustainable. It also allows us to tackle the wider problem of rising international food prices, enabling Afghans to produce food in their own country instead of having to buy in from abroad.