“I know that agriculture is changing and our old methods are insufficient.”
Mr. Abdul Sattar is a grape farmer in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar. His one-hectare vineyard provides most of the income for his 15-member household. In 2016, the Kandahar Food Zone (KFZ) program installed modern post-and-wire trellises in 5% of Mr. Sattar’s vineyard, trained him in modern grape management practices (fertilizers, integrated pest management, pruning, sorting and packing) and visited his farm every month to provide technical assistance.
He said, “I know that agriculture is changing and our old methods are insufficient. I was skeptical about the trellises, but the results look good so far. I expect higher yields from the vines on wire trellises, but won’t know until the 2019 harvest.”
Mr. Sattar is among 12 Kandahari farmers who volunteered to test early bud-break techniques, hoping to accelerate grape growth and increase yields. “Grape prices are always low because we all harvest at the same time,” he explained.
In late February 2017, he used transparent plastic to cover 10% of his grapes growing on traditional mud trellises. For 33 days, the plastic warmed the buds and made them bloom. The grapes grew larger and sweeter, matured faster, and were ready to harvest three weeks early.
Inducing early bud break increased Mr. Sattar’s yield of premium grapes by 38%, from 3.2 tons per hectare to 4.4 tons per hectare.
He stated, “I was able to sell them before the main harvest season, when prices were still high.” Selling grapes three weeks early doubled his selling price from US $0.64 per kilo to $1.27 per kilo. The additional income paid for his $104 investment in reusable plastic and generated a 45% profit.
The KFZ program in Afghanistan addresses the drivers of poppy cultivation in target districts of Kandahar Province by rehabilitating irrigation infrastructure, expanding alternative livelihood opportunities, supporting small businesses and helping the Ministry of Counter Narcotics design effective alternative development policies.