Reaping the Rewards - Confidence Boost for Afghan Women

December 2, 2011

Fruit and vegetable farmers in Afghanistan don’t usually earn very much from selling their produce. Whenever a fruit or vegetable is in season, there’s a glut on the market and the prices are low. But the wives of the farmers who have got together in our cooperative in Herat are forever coming up with new ideas to circumvent the problem.

 

“Women’s Garden” project blossoms

 

Fruit and vegetable farmers in Afghanistan don’t usually earn very much from selling their produce. Whenever a fruit or vegetable is in season, there’s a glut on the market and the prices are low. But the wives of the farmers who have got together in our cooperative in Herat are forever coming up with new ideas to circumvent the problem. They make jams, marmalades, pickles and compotes so that they can be sold throughout the year. They also dry fruit, herbs and vegetables.

 

In “Saodat” (which literally means “Happiness”), a settlement close to the women’s fields, a local shop sells the produce from the Women’s Garden. But there are now also traders from Herat who are interested in selling the goods in the city. At the end of October, the women displayed their produce at an agricultural exhibition, where there was huge interest. They were overrun with customers. In three days they took 18,000 Afghanis (approx. 360 euros). That’s really good for Afghanistan. It was the women’s first experience of selling directly to the public – a challenge they mastered with bravura. It has proved to be a real boost to their self-confidence.

 

Now the saffron harvest is coming to an end. The women are helping their husbands to pick the blossoms and in particular to pluck the fine threads of saffron. They are also working on the side for other saffron farmers, earning a little extra.

 

The weather has now turned very cold. But work in the Women’s Garden is continuing – thanks to two greenhouses. They allow the women to continue producing vegetables right into the winter.

 

These have all been very encouraging experiences – and very much needed after the two devastating locust attacks last spring.

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