Valley of Ali
Valley of Ali
Settled deep in a desert valley, like much of Afghanistan, Valley of Ali* has suffered from decades of war and drought. In times past, Afghans were self-sufficient in food production, and they also managed fruit and nut orchards, raising enough of both to export. Following the war, much of the forests, orchards, and tree cover have been lost.
GHNI has been involved in the agriculture sector for several years in Afghanistan, including training farmers in agriculture practices. The results have been encouraging.
The people in this area had previously been relying on the ever rising production of poppies for income. Opium, made from poppies, is a highly trafficked drug and this farming community knew there must be a better way to feed their families but had lost all hope until GHNI, partnering with Global Partnership for Afghanistan (GPFA) , has stepped in. We told them about the rising success of raising Poplar trees; yes, even in this desert climate!
Poplars are already used throughout Afghanistan in construction and as fuel wood. This established market, coupled with the fast growth characteristics of the introduced hybrids, offers an excellent opportunity for an agricultural product that will compete with poppies as a source of income. (Indeed, one farmer stood before his neighbors and proclaimed, “These are better than poppies!”)
GHNI sees its role as a catalyst, setting up one model poplar woodlot and supporting a farmer in creating another, and then having others copy it. GHNI can also supply the capital and expertise to introduce this business model, and can work with Ministry of Agriculture officials to educate local farmers and create a market for the cuttings.
GPFA has been very gracious and supportive in our efforts to bring this project to life, and we thank them.
*For purposes of security and well-being, “Valley of Ali” is a pseudonym of the village being helped by this project.