Seeds of Change
Abdul Sattar considers himself land-rich but cash-poor. The Kandahar farmer owns nearly 150 acres of farm/and in an area where most fanners have only one or two acres. But because of the prohibitive costs of planting and harvesting, two-thirds of his land has lain dormant for years.
Seed and fertilizer from the USAID S-RAD program is helping farmers get ahead in war-torn southern Afghanistan.
Reduced-cost seed and fertilizer provided by USAID is offering Sattar the opportunity to farm more land and make a better return on this year's harvest. He's one of more than 25,000 farmers participating in a USAID project which distributes high-quality vegetable seed and fertilizer to farmers in southern Afghanistan.
For a small co-pay, Sattar received more than a dozen varieties of high-value vegetable seed along with three-quarters of a Ion of diammonium phosphate and urea fertilizer.
The distribution is part of a larger USAID effort focused on increasing long-term agricultural development in war-torn Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Low-cost seed and fertilizer provides subsistence farmers, like Sattar, with the inputs necessary to build immediate financial security as well as long term sustainability.
"People think I'm rich because I have so much land, but how can you be rich when most of your land looks like a desert?" Sattar said. "So much of my land is dormant because I can't afford to plant it, much less pay for the fuel to run irrigation pumps."
For the past ten years, Sattar has been able to grow only enough food to feed his extended family of 40 children and grandchildren. This year, with money saved on seed and fertilizer he hopes to grow enough to sell at market and invest his profit in a tractor.
"For years we barely got by. This might be the year we get ahead," he said.
The USAID-funded program has both a short-term impact and long-term benefits for farmers like Sattar, hoping to move from sustainability into profitability.