MAIMANA (Pajhwok): Thousands of women in northwestern Faryab province have established small gardens for growing vegetables and have become self-reliant.
The women supply vegetables to market and economically support their families. MahGul is one of these women who has been supporting her eight-member family by growing vegetables in her garden and supplying them to the market.
She told Pajhwok Afghan News: “My husband is old and sick, he can’t work. I have a piece of land besides our home, on which I have built a greenhouse.”
“I got some vegetable seed from the Agriculture Ministry and we were told how to grow vegetables in the Green House. When it produced yield, we supplied it to bazaar.”
She said during winter she sold vegetables worth 700 to 1,000 afs daily. She said the 40-years-old war had destroyed people. “There are more widows and orphans. If there was peace, Afghanistan could develop like other countries”, she believed.
Suhaila, who lives in Tatar Khana area of Maimana, the provincial capital, is assisted by her husband in cultivation of vegetables. He prepares the soil and Suhaila grows, irrigates, reaps the crop. Her sons sell the yield in market.
She said they grew seed and saplings in winter in the Green House and sold them in spring and again grew vegetables which were supplied to the market in fall season.
Suhaila said money earned from growing vegetable was spend on daily expenses of house, children and their school.
She like other women hope for peace and an end to the war so their children could go to school in peace and security.
Maazullah, husband of Suhaila who earlier worked in the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, said his economic condition had not been good until his wife started growing vegetables and supplying them to market.
Suraya, a resident of fifth Municipality District, has a 400 square metres yard in which she grows seed and saplings worth 150 to 200 afghanis and vegetables in summer worth 60,000 afghanis.
She has been growing vegetables for the past three years and supports her 12-member family.
She said the government should provide market for their produce because the prices of vegetables in local market were very low.
Badam Gul brahimi, director family economic affairs in the Department of Agriculture, said Green Houses for women in their gardens, distribution of refined seed to them had proved effective.
She said women now understood how to resolve their problems and help their families.
She said most of women who had lost husbands, brothers or sons in war were busy in Green House gardening.
Mohammad Aslam Hamid, coordinator of the National Horticulture Programme in Faryab, said this project was launched in 2013 in which over 14,000 women had been provided opportunities to grow vegetables and improve their economic condition.
Hamid said women in addition to improving their economy also fulfilled market need regarding vegetables and reduced imports.
He said the aim of the National Horticulture Program (NHP) was empowering women. The program supported 1,550 women in Maimana city and Khwaja Sabzposh district in its first year.
The program later trained and supported 2,000 women annually in Pashtonkot, Sherin Tagab and Andkhoi districts and currently the total number of trained women stood at 14,248, he said.
NHP has three women workers in empowerment area and they train educated women as pioneer farmers in each district and the pioneer farmers would have the responsibility to train a group of 25 individuals.
The trainees received improved quality seeds for producing vegetables in winter and planting trees in spring, Hamid added.
He said they distributed processing tools for pickles, chutney and jam in the capital where 2,100 people currently received training in 21 centers.
He said Vegetable Producer Association was recently created in Maimana city and such associations would be increased in future and they would participate in procurement meetings.
Based on government’s order, contractors have to purchase five percent of women’s products with higher prices, he said.
He called shortage of water as main challenge for women in the NHP and said that women were irrigating their farms with water bought for drinking in Andkhoi district. However, he said NHP was trying to provide micro irrigation system which was more economic and effective than traditional irrigation.
On the other hand, Abdul Kabir Farzam, Faryab agriculture and irrigation director, said the ministry had spent a huge amount of money on empowerment of women in the province.
He said they created 15,000 house gardens, 84 micro houses and eight green houses and built 21 fruits and vegetables processing centers and 1,000 poultry farms.
He said providing tools for each house garden and training cost 10,000 afghanis and the cost of micro greenhouses and large greenhouses was manifold.
Farzam said 25 women had membership in the mentioned projects and programs, 60 agriculture graduates were recruited as pioneer farmers so they would train women in rural areas.
He said his department trained 1,500 women in saffron production and its relevant activities such as processing.
He said more than 18,000 people were directly covered with agricultural projects and programs. “They are women who are affected in war, widowed, orphaned and lost breadwinners,” he said.
Farzam added 91,000 families were indirectly supported by their projects and programs.
House gardens and greenhouses can meet more than 40 percent need of Faryab markets in vegetables, he said.
Insecurity and lack of market for women’s products are two main problems, he said, adding that continued fight in some areas caused women to stay in their houses and their products sold at low prices when they ripen collectively in summer.
Meanwhile, Mualvi Gul Ahmad Latifi, director of Hajj, agriculture and business.
He said women can meet their needs and their family needs on their own by working in society.
“Women who are working in agriculture are most powerful people of the society because they become self-sufficient besides contributing to the country’s economy, he said.
He said war, migration, youths and all people are responsible to help create jobs for women so they are no longer forced into prostitution, he said.