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Gul Ahmad Ahmadi, 48, is one of the many farmers in Injil District of Herat Province who has been following the traditional methods. He owns 13 Jeribs of grape orchards. Like most other farmers in the District, Gul Ahmad has not always been satisfied with his harvests, given the labor and capital he has to invest in his farm every year. The grapes and raisins from his orchard were of a lower than average quality and sold for less in the local market. “My raisins would sell at 450 per Ser (4 kg) only the days when I was lucky.” Said Gul Ahmad.
As a part of the project activities aimed at introducing farmers to improved methods of agriculture, EU FARM/GIZ InS. facilitated an exposure visit for five farmers selected from various districts of Herat Province to Kandahar province from 13 August 2017 to 15 August 2017. Kandahar, being one of the most productive provinces of grapes and raisins (Kishmish) in Afghanistan, justifies its selection as the destination for the exposure visit.
The group of farmers that included Gul Ahmad was taken to various grape orchards during the exposure visit, and was introduced to farmers to learn methods that may prove effective in terms of increasing productivity and income. Of all the lessons the farmers learned from the visit, the two major points that later changed the farmers’ incomes for good were:
Gul Ahmad said, “The moment I learnt that farmers in Kandahar stop watering grape orchards a month prior to harvesting, I immediately phoned my son and asked him not to water our grape orchard anymore because there was almost a month left before harvesting at the time.”
Up on return the farmers started sharing the newly learned methods with 350 other farmers in various associations in Injil and other districts. These newly shared experiences will circulate among the famers of Herat Province and will last generations, positively affecting famers’ incomes.
Later the same year when Gul Ahmad harvested, and produced raisins (Kishmish), the effects of the newly applied methods were noticed in the quality of raisins. “My raisins sold at 650 AFN per Ser (7 kg), which was something unbelievable” Said Gul Ahmad cheerfully.
Gul Ahmad could hardly sell his raisins at 450 AFN per Ser in the past, but after applying the newly learnt methods from the exposure visit, his raisins sell at 650 AFN per Ser, which accounts for a 30 % change in his income. The news of change in Gul Ahmad’s income spread fast, and now almost every farmer in the district applies the newly learnt and proven methods.