Greenhouses- a stable source of income for farmers during COVID-19

"In the past, I was only able to grow vegetables for one season and had no source of income for rest of the year. Every year I was waiting until the river would fill with water,” said Mr. Abdul Majeed during an interview in April 2020. He is a farmer in Nimroz province of Afghanistan, who received training in vegetable production and assistance to set up a greenhouse as part of the Alternative Development programme under INL funding supported by UNODC Afghanistan. He stated “Now I have learned to farm my land with less water and to grow vegetables in a greenhouse in all seasons. I have a new source of income and can now support my family all year long."

In December 2017, UNODC initiated the Alternative Development programme in four districts of Nimroz in southwest Afghanistan which aimed to support licit livelihoods for small and marginal farmers and provides long term income for 18,225 households. The programme concentrates on four components: vegetable cultivation, orchard establishment, bush plantation (land stabilization) and technical vocational training.

The cultivation techniques farmers learnt enabled them to get better results from small piece of land using drip irrigation method, timely technical and market support. The drip irrigation technique has stimulated other farmers in the communities to start cultivating vegetable by their own resources as Nimroz struggles with shortage of water. The knowledge is spreading among the farmers themselves, which will pave the way to modernize the agriculture system and help farmers become self-dependent in the future.

Today, greenhouse beneficiaries see the result of their hard work with each greenhouse producing an average 2,400 kilogrammes of vegetables per year, a farmer can generate around USD 1,029. As a result, the annual income of target beneficiaries increased about 52% from USD 536 to USD 1,029 enabling them to provide food, education and medication for their family members.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has negative implications on economic activities across the country, the greenhouses are still operating, producing fresh vegetables and serve as a stable and steady source of income for farmers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, movements are restricted between provinces and across the country resulted the bazaars having fewer products. Customers prefer now to purchase vegetables directly from the farmers, and this new method of doing business