Afghans agriculture is not just opium production
Afghanistan is a country with many geographical zones. Every area can offer different natural and climate conditions. The country can offer various fruits, vegetables and grains. However, Afghanistan is not able to use these sources for its own economic growth. Many fields are full of mines, or under erosion, people lost their skills in agriculture due to the long war and living as refugees in Pakistan or Iran.
Food industry which might have capacity to process agriculture products from poor Afghans farmers almost does not exist. This is a great business for those who buy the farmers’ products for really low prices and sell them for processing in Pakistan. „ The ordinary Afghans have to buy flour and other basic food for high prices. But we do not have any other choice to sell our production, because there are only few mills or other food production factories in our country, “farmer Ahmed says. As the additional value for Afghans farmers is very low, they have a big problem to survive.
Opium or flour?
A kind of escape from poverty is opium which is more profitable. For an ordinary farmer in Afghanistan, who is not able to read, it is really hard to understand why his hard work on opium fields is dangerous for security situation in Afghanistan and he is not able to imagine that Europeans or Americans wish to be on the drugs from his farm. „I need to make money for my family; we can hardly buy ordinary goods. It makes difference if I make 500 dollars or 50 dollars. Everything is expensive here, “Ahmed explains.
Many farmers found the solution in joining farmers’ associations which help them sell their products. A lot of NGOs have programmes to establish new associations followed by building local capacities together for processing agricultural production. These associations build new mills for flour, manufactures for drying fruits, making jams, milk etc. Subsequently, the farmers can sell all these products for a fair price on local markets. These projects cannot change the reality that opium is more profitable, but farmers can also find a chance for normal life without producing drugs.