Acute hunger remains at unprecedented levels in Afghanistan with more than half of the population acute food insecure.
More short and longer-term recovery assistance is needed to reactivate the economy and break the vicious cycle of this unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The UN Humantarian Response plan for 2022 in Afghanistan requires USD 4.4 billion.
Households are resorting to desperate measures such as skipping meals, selling their agricultural livelihoods, or taking on debt to ensure there is food on the table at the end of the day. Despite all this, 3.5 million children need nutrition treatment support due to the high level of acute food insecurity at household level.
Hunger remains largely a rural crisis. More than 70 percent of people in Afghanistan live in rural areas. Agriculture is a crucial part of Afghanistan's economy with an estimated 80 percent of all livelihoods depending directly or indirectly on agriculture. It typically contributes more than 25 percent of total GDP. Sustaining agriculture is essential to help Afghans get back on their feet, regain self-reliance, and thrive for prosperity
The ongoing crisis is posing serious challenges to farmers and herders across the country.
SOUNDBITE (Pashto) – Mohammad Karim, farmer from Ashoqa village, Zhery District, Kandahar province: “We need fertilizers, seeds, assistance with our orchards, water pumps as the water is scarce here, as well as pesticides since our fields are oftentimes infested by pests and diseases. People are very poor here.”
Many vulnerable herders would sell their livestock in despair at low prices so they can buy food and feed for the remaining animals.
SOUNDBITE (Pashto) – Abdullah, Kuchi nomadic herder, from Zhery District, Kandahar province: “We have many problems. Now, we are facing challenges to provide feed and water for our livestock, or to obtain medicines for us. Besides, we haven’t got any well from which we could obtain drinking water for human consumption.”
As the risk of agriculture’s collapse remains high, support to this vital sector, the backbone of the country’s economy, is key to addressing the hunger crisis, averting wider economic collapse and further displacement.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) aims to assist nine million people in rural Afghanistan in 2022 with emergency agricultural inputs, cash assistance and technical training.
FAO’s emergency agricultural support to rural livelihoods is a core part of the humanitarian community’s assistance in Afghanistan. It helps saves lives and protect livelihoods, while it paves the way for longer-term recovery and sustainable development.
This assistance helps vulnerable rural people become self-reliant again. Farhad is the head of a family of seven. He relies 100 percent on agriculture and does not have any other source of income. He has one cow and one calf, and three goats. FAO assisted him with certified wheat seeds, fertilizers and provided technical training. He hopes to harvest enough staple food for his family for the next year, as well as some surplus to generate an income.
SOUNDBITE (Pashto). Farhad, wheat farmer from Nangarhar province, Afghanistan: “[Without FAO’s support] we would have lost the livestock and our situation would be worse. The germination is very good. The results are good so far.”
In remote and isolated rural areas, local and backyard food production are crucial to keep families alive, in particular those headed by women like Fahima, who is the breadwinner for a family of six
SOUNDBITE (Dari) Fahima, female farmer assisted by FAO with soybean seeds and training: “We used to cultivate rice in our land, but we were not able to do so recently because of the drought. During this difficult period, FAO supported us with soybean seed and fertilizers. We also received training from the Organization related to soybean cooking and we learned how to cook it.”
As women are often not allowed to work outside their home in rural Afghanistan, FAO has designed specific assistance packages oriented to support female farmers, while adjusting to cultural context and norms, as well as adhering to the ‘Do no harm’ humanitarian principle.
Women's involvement in these agricultural activities is key to increase food production and improve nutrition in Afghanistan.