Although wintry temperatures linger on in Kabul, Kapisa, and Parwan, at GPFA we haven't let Mother Nature hinder our work with Afghan women farmers. After the growing season ended we turned our attention towards training and capacity-building activities to gear our farmers up for a successful second season. Recent months have found us in training sessions, visiting farms, conducting post-harvest evaluations, and much more -- and we could not have done it without your support! Thank you!
We are interested in finding out what works for our women farmers (and equally as important what doesn’t), and how we can maximize the benefits of best practices for them. Our staff conducted post-harvest surveys with 176 strawberry producers, analyzing the success and effectiveness of our distribution and production practices. The lessons from these surveys informed the content of subsequent training sessions with our farmers.
There are a multitude of elements that contribute to the high-value strawberries our farmers produce, including everything from proper land preparation and adequate irrigation, to fertilizer application, and plant protection in cold weather. Our training modules are extensive and multifaceted. We visited a number of our farms, working closely with our women farmers to teach new and improved techniques of growing, harvesting, packing, and selling fresh strawberries.
In addition to practical training for our farmers in the field, our program team received business training by Kabul University professors, which included an overview of the strawberry market value chain in Afghanistan, wholesaling business basics, and business plan development concepts. They’ll take this newfound knowledge back to the field to help even more women farmers grown their small businesses.
Again, thank you so much for your support of this project! Every donation counts and we encourage you to become a monthly donor (for as little as $10 a month!) to help us reach even more women farmers. We invite you to watch this video from the field to hear from our farmers themselves and to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on our work.
With your continued support this project is increasing the household incomes of Afghan women strawberry farmers and has made remarkable progress during the past few months. In Kapisa, Parwan and rural Kabul, GPFA has worked directly with 500 strawberry producers and 10 wholesalers, building on their existing capacities and providing new opportunities to enhance their small to medium enterprises.
In our last report, we shared the exciting news that our first harvest was taking place, which yielded plenty of high quality strawberries and gave our farmers the first tangible evidence of all their hard work. We are still finalizing the numbers for this first harvest and look forward to sharing them with you in our next report. As strawberry season turned to a close, GPFA emphasized training wholesalers and farmers, providing the tools and knowledge needed to improve both production (for the farmers) and agribusiness practices (for the wholesalers).
Despite Afghanistan's favorable growing conditions, strawberry farming is still relatively new to the country. For this reason, technical training is essential to the project’s success. GPFA staff regularly visit strawberry farmers to provide training at their farms on topics that range from irrigation to fertilizer application to weed control, and more. Our farmers are learning to perfect their harvesting and packaging techniques and learning new ways to increase the productivity of their crop. We also provided laptop computers to wholesalers and worked with them to develop sample business plans for their agribusinesses, gearing them up to partner with women producers and linking them to potential markets. This is a unique aspect of this project, as the wholesalers provide a vital link to help farmers gain access to markets.
As the holiday season approaches, it is time to start thinking about gifts for family, friends, and work colleagues. Why not make donations in their names to this project by selecting the “Gift or in Honor of” donation option? Strawberries, in medieval times, were considered symbols of peace, and as our strawberry gardens flourish, we hope to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for our Afghan women farmers and their families. On behalf of all of us at GPFA, thank you for continued support!
P.S. We've included with this message a link to our new video that highlights stories of our women farmers, so you can hear first-hand from the field the impact GPFA's programs are having on rural farm families.
We are pleased to announce the continued success of our strawberry project in partnership with GlobalGiving! Thanks to your support, we have raised one-third of our $25,000 fundraising goal and 500 women farmers are harvesting their strawberries this month!
This past spring our women farmers planted a total of 500,000 strawberry runners. Since we last reported to you, we have provided these women training in irrigation and water management, fertilizer application, weed control, harvesting, and packaging techniques. As follow-up on this training, we are also visiting each individual strawberry farm and providing hands-on/one-on-one instructions in the field. Due to our training efforts, our women farmers are geared up for a successful first season and are gaining the lifelong skills they need to provide for themselves and their families.
We have also begun to train 10 women wholesalers. These wholesalers will work to efficiently bring the strawberries to the marketplace and allow the women farmers to make the most profit from their strawberries. During this month our farmers will harvest thousands of kilograms of strawberries to be sold in the marketplace. Although the first harvest won’t be at peak production (this will occur in second and third years), these women will be able to support themselves and their families due to their hard work and unwavering spirits. More importantly, this year's harvest represents the growth that has been made in empowering these women and launching their farm enterprises.
Please help us continue our critical work with Afghan women farmers by donating today! GlobalGiving’s Monthly Recurring donation option is an easy way to support our project for as little as $12 per month. You can also always provide a one-time donation which will provide a great boost to this project. On behalf of all of us at GPFA, a heartfelt thank you!