Case Holder:

Road to Jobs (R2J)

Extension Services on Good Agriculture Practices for Grapes

Promotion of Youth Employment in Fragile Settings

Background & Context

It is clear that alongside strategies for creating jobs, there must also be strategies for creating new businesses that will, in turn, create employment.  For those young people living in fragile states seeking decent employment or entrepreneurial opportunities is an even greater challenge. More than 1.4 billion people are believed to be living in situations typified as “fragile”.   This may be as a result of human-made or natural disasters, armed conflict, health related epidemics and outbreaks and extreme poverty, which have made it difficult if not impossible for a government to administer, provide and care for the people within its protection.  An example of this is the lack of services and the often dis-jointed relationship between the core stakeholders who might contribute to creating entrepreneurial and employment opportunities, such as those developing policy or providing education, the transition from school to work, technical and vocational training and creating an enabling environment for start-up businesses to flourish and grow.

According to the Afghan Central Statistics Organization, in 2014 almost 47 percent of the country’s 27.1 million people were under fifteen and 37 percent between fifteen and thirty-nine. The participation of women in the labour force is low – only 29 percent of women are economically active. Around 66 percent of this female labour force is engaged in agriculture and 24 percent in manufacturing.  One of the greatest challenges is to create jobs and/or business opportunities for the nearly 400,000 people entering the labour market each year.  Approximately half of the Afghan population is underemployed or unemployed, and the lack of work particularly affects women and consequently, women headed households are the poorest in the world.

Grape Growing in Afghanistan

Grapes play an important role in the economy of Afghanistan and have been cultivated for centuries. Unfortunately, the vast majority of grapes are grown on earthen mounds, resulting in poor quality and high losses due to disorders and pests. Afghan grapes are well known in the region and offer promising sources of revenue for exporters.

More grapes are grown in Afghanistan than any other fruits, comprising nearly half of the total fruits produced, thereby playing an important role in the agricultural economy. Each year grapes are exported (both fresh and dried) to countries such as Pakistan, India, England, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, the UAE and Central Asia. Grapes in Afghanistan are consumed fresh, dried and in the form of grape juice. Grapes are grown in nearly every part of the country, with commercial production in the provinces of Kabul, Parwan, Kapisa, Kandahar, Helmand, Jawzjan, Herat and Ghazni. The total area of grapevine cultivation in Afghanistan is estimated at more than 62,000 hectares with a total annual production of more than 610,000 metric tons1 . Average farm yields are approximately 9,800 kg/ha.

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The Problem

One of the systemic constraints identified during the MSA was that farmers do not have the knowledge of good agricultural practices and therefore do not get optimum yield out of their grape fields. The quality is also affected as farmers use traditional practices rather than more modern trellising methods. This is because of poor extension services by both public and private service providers. There are various associations in the Balkh and Samangan provinces willing to provide their member farmers with updated information on GAP but they themselves lack updated knowledge. They need support to be able to provide these services so farmers may increase the yield and quality of grapes.

Objective

The objective of this Grape Extension Service intervention was to provide training to the farmer’s associations and the extension workers of the DAIL in order that they might extend this knowledge to the farmers of 4 target districts (Balkh and Dawlatabad in Balkh province and Feroz Nakchir and Hazrat Sultan in Samangan province).

Value Proposition & Activities

R2J contracted with the Afghanistan National Horticulture Development Organisation to provide the training and a total of 31 (9 input suppliers and 22 from the farmer’s associations and the DAIL) individuals participated. The table below shows the list of topics for both sessions.  Participants also visited a raisin factory and Dehdadi Public Health Centre as a field visit.

 

  Pre-harvest topics Post-harvest topics
1 Economic Importance of Grape production in Afghanistan Type of losses after harvesting
2 Constraints and challenges Maturity indices and harvesting methods
3 Grapevine biology and anatomy Harvesting and their management in vineyard
4 Vineyard Nursery management Transportation and Pack house process
5 Site and variety selection Sorting, grading, packaging and precooling
6 Vineyard design, layout and planting of  rooted cutting Cold storage management
7 Training and pruning of grape Control and management of pests after
8 I and Trellising systems harvesting of fresh grapes for market
9 Irrigation and fertilizer management Export and domestic markets for fresh grapes
10 Effects of thinning, girdling and growth regulators on grape quality Practical exercises in the field
11 Raisin production techniques in Afghanistan

Global GAP

12 Practical exercise in the field

Learning & Results

An assessment was carried out to measure the results and better understand the impacts of grape extension services intervention at a community level. Assessments were carried out in 16 villages in the four districts above mentioned. 45 grape farmers were interviewed and four focus group discussions held ( one for each district). The 9 input suppliers and 22 farmer’s cooperative members and DAIL extension workers who received the training were interviewed.

In the 4 targeted districts all the grape farmers now have access to GAP information via input suppliers, farmers associations and DAIL extension workers. The interviewed extension workers have delivered GAP training to 296 farmers. From these 296 farmers 220 were trained by input suppliers, 56 by farmer’s cooperatives and 20 by DAIL extension workers.

Extension Workers and Input suppliers

 

Overall, the grape extension services intervention has improved the skills and knowledge of both extension workers as well as farmers. 22 extension workers received GAP training which was then passed on to the farmers at community level. The main challenge for extension workers in providing GAP training is travelling ( transportation costs) to different villages. Among the extension workers input suppliers have proved to be the best service providers because they are paid for their services; alongside providing these services they can train farmers in GAP.

The input suppliers have, post training, increased their coverage area and customers have increased by 41%. This increase in customers and farmers awareness has boosted sales by 24% ( AFN 1,210,000 last year and AFN 1,500,000 this year.)

Farmers

This training has made me see how I can change the way I grow grapes. The new methods are already showing better production and my crops have less disease…” Bahiri Farha, 45, Grape Farmer , Faraz Nakchir province.

Responses showed that all interviewed farmers have received good GAP training. Extension workers mainly used on the job training methods, explaining topics by visiting grape orchards and demonstrating. In some cases they collected the farmers together and explained pre-harvest topics. The extension workers didn’t charge for the training and thus they received free training which resulted in increased production. Out of 45 interviewed farmers, 22 of them have received GAP training from input suppliers, 9 from DAIL and 14 from cooperatives.

31 out of the 45 farmers interviewed said the training on GAP through extension workers was very helpful to them whilst the remaining stated it was helpful. 22 out of the 45 said they were highly satisfied, 20 they were satisfied and the remaining 3 a little satisfied.

Grape quality post GAP training has improved. Production has increased by 422kgs/Jerib. This will improve in the coming years as the GAP practices are applied.

Conclusion & any future variation

The assessment indicates that the intervention has greatly benefited both extension workers and farmers in rural communities and the impacts of this intervention will be stronger over time. The knowledge of extension workers has been improved and their services enhanced. Pre-harvest and post-harvest training ‘on the job’ has proved to be the most effective and farmers are now adopting GAP, increasing the quantity and quality of their yields.

The input retailers are getting more customers and their revenue has increased and farmers are requesting more frequent visits of extension workers. Clearly input suppliers are more effective than other extension workers because their GAP training is delivered alongside their selling; the other extension workers such as those from the cooperatives have to bear the cost of transportation. If they were supported for fuel costs they may be able to visit more.

Other recommendations are regular monitoring by the DAIL workers and records kept via a monitoring template in order to register whether GAP training has taken place. If extension workers are supported they can conduct training in class, bringing farmers together to explain pre-harvest and post-harvest topics in classes of 20 to 25 farmers.