Roots of Peace -- beyond 2014
KABUL (PAN): Roots of Peace, an international non-profit organisation, on Thursday celebrated a decade of success with its agribusiness model impacting over one million farmers and families in all 34 provinces.
Heidi Kuhn, Roots of Peace founder and chief executive officer, led a delegation to the grape vineyards and market centre in the Mirbachakot area of Shamali in Kabul, the organisation said.
Roots of Peace, through various projects nationwide, has assisted farmers to improve traditional methods of grape farming to modern trellis posts, which has resulted in higher quality and increased income for growers and traders.
With financial assistance from USAID, Roots of Peace also built in Mirbachakot a Market Center that includes a pack house and cold storage facility, which is currently used by Afghan traders for reefer shipments of different fruits to international markets.
During the delegation visit’s, journalists had the chance to see the farms, harvest of fresh grapes and interview growers. They also had the opportunity to visit the Kyleigh Kuhn School in Mirbachakot, built by millions of pennies raised by American children.
In a country where 80% of people are dependent on agriculture, Roots of Peace is working to modernise the income potential of farmers through improved production methods, as well as world-class export and marketing practices, with funding from USAID, USDA, DOD, EU, GTZ, ADB and the World Bank.
As US, NATO and the Afghan government discuss troop drawdowns, the organisation is coordinating the ‘build-up’ of agricultural resources nationwide to improve farming techniques and outreach to foreign markets, promoting the quality of Afghan agricultural products.
Focusing on growth and sustainability, the group has already planted five million fruit trees during the past 10 years and plans to increase these numbers for commercialised farming. The outcome of this strategy will serve as a sustainable development model long after 2014.
Once dubbed the ‘Garden of Central Asia’, generations of Afghan farmers shared farming techniques prior to war. Yet the Soviet invasion, civil war and the Taliban broke that agricultural value chain.
In 2003, a typical Afghan farmer would grow grapes on mounds subject to disease and harvested in the hot sun at mid-day in burlap sacks and dragged to market. Roots of Peace intervened with improved techniques such as grape trellising, cold-storage facilities, corrugated packaging, branding and opening of export markets to India, Pakistan, the UAE, Russia and Europe.
The result has doubled and even tripled the income for rural Afghan farmers who remain dedicated toward Roots of Peace efforts during the past decade and for years to come.
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