CHALLENGE The famous Kandahari orchards in times of peace boast Kismish and Ayta grapes, apricots, figs, almonds, and the most illustrious of them all â pomegranates, whose succulent fruit has been a long standing emblem of this region. Orchards are vulnerable to the vicissitudes of war: trees that have taken years or decades to develop may be destroyed in an instant. However, not all enemies of the trees are human: insects can be more dangerous to a tree than a thousand bullets.
In March 2010, Kandahar was overrun by an infestation of aphids, small plant-eating insects which are among the most destructive tree-killing pests in this area. Farmers and shura members approached USAIDâs Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agricul-ture Plus program to seek assistance with the rising aphid blight, which, if left unchecked, would have severely damaged at least one third of Kandaharâs orchards, delivering a severe blow to the livelih-oods of thousands of struggling farmers.
INITIATIVE In consultation with the farming community, the Kanda-har Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) and the Agricultural Department of Kandahar University, AVIPA Plus devel-oped and started rapidly implementing a complete custom-made Inte-grated Pest Management (IPM) project. A simple but efficient eco-friendly solution of soap and water was prepared and tested which, when applied properly, also decreases the presence of two other lo-cal pests - thrips and whiteflies.
By mid-April, the IPM project was expanded to the orchards around the city of Kandahar and in the districts of Zhari and Panjwayi.
RESULTS To date, 6,000 workers have sprayed 8,500 hectares of the Kandahari orchards since March 2010. The workers are all local villagers, many of whom own and earn a livelihood from the very orc-hards they are now protecting from the pests.
In addition, AVIPA Plus will train, equip, and supply a DAIL-sponsored hundred-member team to pass on the know-how to local governmental representatives and thus ensure the sustainability of the initiative.
Under the IPM project, the laborers earn good money and the orchard owners will save their fruit crops this season.
Not all foes are human - obliterating the livelihood of the farmers can be as destructive as the effects of war. USAID/AVIPA Plus continues to work with the farmers of Afghanistan to strengthen their peaceful livelihoods.
June 10, 2014