First ever women-led village-based seed enterprise in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan’s patriarchal society, seed production is primarily considered to be the task of men. Women farmers have few opportunities to be involved. ICARDA and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock are making concerted efforts to encourage the greater participation of Afghan women through community-based activities.

The successful implementation of a village-based seed enterprise (VBSE) project in Parwan, funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, has taken gender parity a huge step forward. Key to the success of the project were meetings, organized in collaboration with the Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, the Directorate of Women’s Affairs, Community Development Councils, District Development Assemblies, and seed companies, to address social barriers and upgrade women’s skills. The project has not only opened the doors for replicating VBSEs, but will also go some way to addressing the gap between the supply and demand of certified seeds in Afghanistan.

Parwan-Bastan was one of the companies with no women members previously. Now seven women farmers have taken membership here.

Ms. Frozan Darwish, Gender Expert, ICARDA-Afghanistan Stefanie Christmann, Environmental Governance Expert, ICARDA

Increasing incomes and strengthening livelihoods in Palestine

A project, funded by the Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) and implemented by ICARDA along with the Palestinian Agriculture Relief Committee (PARC), the Ministry of Agriculture, and farmer associations, is strengthening the resilience and increasing the incomes of sheep and goat herders in Palestine, especially women and Bedouins.

The project introduced silage and feed blocks made from crop byproducts and residues, water harvesting, and zero tillage. Farmer field schools, arranged with community-based organizations, provided farmers with opportunities to observe, learn and test innovative technologies without risking their own limited resources. ICARDA conducted train-the-trainer courses for staff from CARE and PARC in these practices and, in cooperation with the National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension in Jordan, trained women farmers to process sheep’s milk.

In Palestine, production of food and livestock, especially sheep and goats, depends mainly on rangeland vegetation cover. The improvements in livestock productivity and management of natural resources introduced by the project are raising incomes, strengthening livelihoods, and building resilience among sheep and goat herders.