About the Author: Adisa Busuladzic serves with USAID in Afghanistan.
U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Mohammad Asif Rahimi, inaugurated a Farm Mechanization Program for mid-size farmers in a ceremony at Badam Bagh farm on February 6, 2011. In the presence of fellow farmers and Afghan and U.S. officials, 40 farmers from the surrounding area purchased two-wheeled tractors and attachments at a subsidized price.
"These tractors are a small but important link in a chain that strengthens Afghan agriculture," Minister Rahimi said. "Other links in the chain include building better roads, new agribusiness, new jobs and bigger markets in Afghanistan and abroad," he added.
Addressing the farmers, Ambassador Eikenberry said, “The inauguration of this Farm Mechanization Program today is just one part of a larger vision for agricultural production. I travelled to all 34 provinces of Afghanistan and what stands out on all those travels is that agriculture is a backbone of the Afghan economy and society. What also stands out is how industrious, creative and hardworking are the farmers of Afghanistan.”
The Farm Mechanization Program is aimed at mid-sized farmers growing crops for the market from 18 provinces: Herat, Farah, Ghor, Badghis, Balkh, Faryab, Samangan, Sar-e-Pul, Jawzjan, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Baghlan, Takhar, Kabul, Bamiyan, Kapisa, Panjshir and Parwan. Farmers apply for the program through the Provincial Departments of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and, if accepted, receive a week-long hands-on training course on the operation and maintenance of the DF-15 two-wheeled tractor, seed drill, roto-cultivator, reaper and trailer. The project has also trained 250 mechanics specialized in the repair and maintenance of the tractors and attachments, with access to a wide range of spare parts and supplies. When the farmer has completed the training course he or she takes the voucher to the designated dealer and pays the subsidized price of about $1,400 to complete the purchase of the tractor and attachments.
The program highlighted today is one of a number of programs the U.S. government supports in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) aimed at increasing agricultural productivity in Afghanistan. For more information about our programs, please visit afghanistan.usaid.gov.