As a village elder, Hajji Baba cares about his community and knows that his well-being is linked to the security of his envi-ronment and the prosperity of his fellow villagers in the Arghan-dab district of Kandahar Province. Hajji Baba was one of many Arghandab farmers suffering after several years of drought. The farmers couldnât plough the land, had no fruit on the trees, and didnât know what to do about the insects on the trees.
Addressing these problems, USAIDâs Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Productive Agriculture (AVIPA) Plus project delivered a large scale sapling project in Kandahar where 6,000 laborers planted 814,000 pomegranate, apricot, plum and grape saplings to rehabilitate more than 6,000 hectares of orchards previously pruned and cleaned by AVIPA Plus laborers.
Like other elders from the villages in southern Afghanistan where this USAID-funded program operates, Hajji Baba heard about AVIPA Plus from his district governor. In the Arghandab District Center, AVIPA Plus personnel asked the elders to pro-vide beneficiary lists for their villages. Soon, formerly unem-ployed people from his village were pruning and cleaning the orchards using new equipment with newly acquired skills.
âThis year is much better. In January, AVIPA Plus provided us with saplings and labor to clean and prune the orchards. The program provided us with an organic spray that doesnât kill the bees. This year we will have the best harvest in the last 30 years,â said Hajji Baba.
Hajji Baba believes the programâs greatest strength is the op-portunity it provides for jobless and landless people. âUnem-ployment and drug addiction were turning these people against peace and security. Now they work with us,â he said.
He is proud of his orchard where he grows apricots, plums, peaches, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, figsâand, of course, pomegranates and grapes for which the region is famous.
Hajji Babaâs community is one of the many AVIPA Plus is work-ing with to improve the stability and prosperity in this harsh en-vironment.
June 10, 2014