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Thread: Agricultural Component of the Afghanistan Surge?

  1. #21
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default GIS at work and good to see it...

    From the AKO website by Sgt. Doug Roles, 56th SBCT: Space technology assists Iraqi irrigation inventory project

    BAGHDAD (June 30, 2009) -- Soldiers from the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team's geospatial intelligence section are playing a role in helping Iraqi leaders prepare to expand irrigation and farming throughout Iraq.

    The Soldiers are teaching 20 Iraqi technicians on data processing procedures they will use to inventory the Iraqi farmland and irrigation infrastructure.

    Sgt. 1st Class Marvin Nichols and Pfc. Amanda Po, both with Headquarters Company, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, are presenting a geospatial systems workshop to Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Agriculture officials in the International Zone. The course, that began June 21, will continue throughout the week.

    The workshop shows technicians how to compile data, gathered recently by field technicians, to measure canal layouts and amounts of acreage used for growing various crops.

    "Basically they're looking for an accurate, fast way of processing this information," said Nichols, the brigade's senior geospatial intelligence engineer.

    Nichols explained that the ministries will use the raw data to begin a cost analysis of improvement projects. Many parts of the canal system are over 30 years old and are in various states of disrepair.

    The Stryker Soldiers got involved in the data-gathering effort after previously assisting the U.S. Agency for International Development/Tatweer program by preparing maps of a roughly 35-square-kilometer area, between Taji and Baghdad. That area, south of the grand canal, is the pilot area for the irrigation inventory.

    The Tatweer, an Arabic word meaning development, provides support to the ministries for capacity development in public management.
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  2. #22
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default SSG Zachary knocks one outta the park...

    From the AKO website by Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary: Agri-business development team plants seeds of hope for Afghan people

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE FINLEY-SHIELDS, Afghanistan -- At war in a country that has been devastated by centuries of fighting, the U.S. military is committed to helping Afghanistan attain a functional level of prosperity and self-sustainability through improved agricultural methods.

    Teams of National Guardsmen from Missouri and 11 other farm-belt states are deploying to Afghanistan on year-long tours to assist in this effort. The Guardsmen bring with them more specialized skills than those of the usual advisory panels that typically helm projects such as these. This mission calls for military members with expertise in farming, raising livestock and cultivating natural resources.

    The U.S. military recognized the necessity of such teams in late 2007 when reconstruction teams realized people in rural areas needed something more pressing than a new school or road. Across Afghanistan, these teams have been inundated with requests for help with farming and other agricultural endeavors.

    The Nangarhar Province Agri-Business Development Team has focused on facilitating sustainable projects that aid the Afghan people in a manner that results in greater impact and more long-term benefits.

    "We have a wide-range of programs geared at helping the Afghan people gain better farming practices and that often means providing basic systems such as wells and karizes to irrigate the crops," said Maj. Denise Wilkinson, ADT executive officer who is deployed from the Missouri Joint Force Headquarters. "We have projects with large budgets, but we have found that it's the small projects at little cost that have the biggest impact on the people who need our help the most."

    Currently, the Nangarhar ADT has 74 active projects totaling $5.6 million.

    Projects the team manages include:

    - Building grain mills.
    - Introducing new wheat seed.
    - Developing canning and juicing factories for harvested vegetables and fruits.
    - Building cool storage facilities to store harvested crops operated by solar panels.
    - Overseeing micro-slaughter facilities to increase sanitization of livestock meat.
    - Launching vet clinics focused on de-worming the livestock.
    - Advising with reforestation projects.
    - Increasing the crop yield for commercial use.
    - Operating cold- and warm-water fish hatcheries.

    "The real intent here is to show them how to harness the resources they've got," said Master Sgt. Richard Frink, a native of Carthage, Mo. "Once we do, you'll see a lot of change for the better, because they can take care of themselves."
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  3. #23
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Facebook and ADT's...

    Joshua Foust at Registan provides a link a a US Forces Facebook page: U.S. Forces - Afghanistan: Midwest grain bins going to Afghan farmers

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    July 17, 2009

    By U.S. Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens
    Task Force Warrior Public Affairs Office

    BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Members of the Task Force Warrior Agri-Business Development Team visited several villages in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province, July 13, to assess completed grain bins that once occupied farmlands in Imperial, Neb. The bins have been relocated and reconstructed to help Afghan farmers with grain storage issues.

    “These completed grain bins are the first in Afghanistan, and serve as an excellent way for farmers to store their grain,” said ADT Agronomist, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eldon Kuntzelman, who first thought of the idea to ship grain bins to Afghanistan, June 2008, during pre-deployment preparations.
    Rooting around on the Facebook page also leads to: U.S. Forces - Afghanistan: Provincial Governor Unveils District Development Plan in Garmsir

    Story by Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Cox
    Regimental Combat Team 3

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan
    The most noteworthy event though, according to the battalion commander, has been the activity around "Drop 8," a sluice gate along the Helmand River now acting as the primary entrance for all the irrigation in the district.

    "There was a problem with silt building up," he explained. "But working together with the district governor and elders, we were able to solve the problem within one week.

    "It's a great example for the people to see the government of Afghanistan working to meet their needs," Cabaniss said.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 07-19-2009 at 12:14 AM.
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  4. #24
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I'm about to drop an AAR in the Afghanistan PTP thread, but I just attended a lecture by Gretchen Peters (author of Seeds of Terror, and she made the point that opium cultivated in Afghanistan would have to go through a shift in collection and production methods in order to come close to the hygienic methods required for medicinal purposes. She also added that unless the whole shebang was subsidized, medicinal opium would not likely garner prices higher than the farmer would get for growing wheat.

    I found those points very interesting.

  5. #25
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Low tech water solutions...

    ...standard disclaimers apply.

    From the Potters for Peace Website: Low Cost Water Filters made by Locals

    Since 1998, Potters for Peace has been assisting in the production worldwide of a low-tech, low-cost, colloidal silver-enhanced ceramic water purifier (CWP). Field experience and clinical test results have shown this filter to effectively eliminate approximately 99.88% of most water born disease agents.

    WHY
    Every year there are 1.7 million deaths, mainly children under the age of five, due to diarrhea caused by unsafe water. The U.N.’s Millennium Development Goal is to halve the number of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water by the year 2015. Achieving this would require that at least 125,000 people be connected to safe water supplies each day before the 2015 target.
    Incredibly, this problem is still not being realistically addressed, high- tech solutions are proposed, but in general there is no investment in technology that can easily be copied by local workshops in developing countries.
    The ultimate objective of the CWP project is to meet this urgent demand for safe water in rural and marginalized communities, and provide employment for local potters.

    Potters for Peace is a member of the World Health Organization’s International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage.

    WHAT IS THE CWP
    It is a simple, pressed bucket shape 11” wide by 10” deep, made with a mix of local terra-cotta clay and sawdust or other combustible, such as rice husks. The simplest press utilizes a hand-operated hydraulic truck jack and two-piece aluminum mold.
    After firing to about 860 deg. C. the filter is coated with colloidal silver. The combination of fine pore size, resulting from milled, screened materials, and the bactericidal properties of colloidal silver produce an effective filter.
    A 1.5 to 2.5 liter per hour rate of filtration is determined by the combination of clay/combustible mix and firing temperature.
    For use the fired, treated filter element is placed in a five gallon plastic or ceramic receptacle with a lid and faucet. Pricing for ready to use filter units is determined by local production costs and is usually between $10-25 with the basic plastic receptacle. Replacement filter elements will cost $4 to $6. A basic production facility with three or four workers can produce about fifty filters a day.
    A low rez pictorial USDA powerpoint presentation on Low Cost Bucket Drip Irrigation. A 5.7 mb file on this topic from the USDA website is located here.
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 07-20-2009 at 12:34 AM.
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  6. #26
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    From the AKO website: U.S. forces foster growth in Afghanistan

    WASHINGTON (July 22, 2009) -- U.S. forces aided Afghan farmers and villagers recently in operations aimed at cultivating a brighter future in Afghanistan.

    Farmers in Panjshir province's Dara district will be able to store their produce from the fall harvest in a temperature-controlled underground facility for the first time, thanks to the efforts of the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team.

    The $45,000 project provides farmers with a place to store food either for personal consumption or to sell at markets. Potatoes, watermelon, wheat and other fruits and vegetables can be stored in the facility.

    The storage room was built underground for improved temperature control and has a thermal-chimney vent system and a solar-powered ventilation system.

    "We're all very excited about what this facility can do for us," said Zubair, a facility maintainer and local farmer. "This will extend the age of our products, especially over the very cold winter."

    Panjshir is still without sustainable electricity, which limits food-storage options.

    "From what we've learned, fresh fruits and vegetables often go to waste because there isn't a proper way to store them," said Sgt. Daniel Kelley, the team's civil affairs liaison to the Panjshir director of agriculture. "Hopefully, this facility will help the residents of Dara maintain a healthy food source for longer periods of time or even help them earn extra money."

    The minister of counternarcotics in Kabul recognized the people of Panjshir for having a poppy-free province, awarding the $1.4 million in January through the Good Performance Initiative. The provincial governor, in turn, committed the money toward agricultural projects that will improve the sustainability of farmers and their crops.

    As a result, the reconstruction team has increased its agriculture-related efforts, and now has 14 projects worth $1.6 million, with plans for another eight under way.
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  7. #27
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    - good news all the way around, not much mention of it in the media though - those grain bins are easy to assemble

  8. #28
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    From the LA Times by David Zucchino: U.S. Army's farm program tackles Afghan rebuilding from the ground up

    In a country where 80% of working-age males are small-scale farmers, such a program might seem central to the rebuilding effort. Yet the U.S. military has just 350 agricultural specialists in a country of 31 million, covering nine of 34 provinces.

    Using military discretionary funds, Jones' team operates in an obscure corner separate from America's civilian-funded reconstruction effort, which since 2001 has cost $7.9 billion.

    For years, the United States has focused on eradicating opium poppies, by far Afghanistan's leading cash crop and foreign currency earner. Help for millions of subsistence farmers growing wheat, corn and other staples has been a lower priority.

    The eradication program, called "a sad joke" by the director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, did nothing to prevent skyrocketing opium production after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

    Last month, Richard C. Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, called opium eradication "a waste of money" because it puts farmers out of work and drives them toward the Taliban. Holbrooke said eradication efforts would be phased out in favor of arresting major drug traffickers and promoting alternative crops.

    Holbrooke also said U.S. civilian agriculture assistance to Afghanistan would increase from tens of millions of dollars a year to hundreds of millions.
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  9. #29
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    I'm thinking more on the dynamics of agriculture in Afghanistan, and am certainly realizing that it will take more than new, studier, or more valuable cash crops to unlock the grip of opium, but among the staple crops, how are farmers doing?

    When I catch pictures of farmland in Helmand or elsewhere, it all seems fairly lush and sturdy from what I can see, but is that all just an inaccurate picture? What efficiencies can be achieved? What projects are/have been underway in that area which has made a noticeable difference?

    Right now I have no idea what Helmand's agriculture could use, in terms of micro-projects, to make the ROI better. I know the farmers themselves know, but has anyone come across information that tells the story of what they think they need? If I get anywhere at all involved in LOO work during the next deploy, I suspect it will have a heavy agricultural component.

  10. #30
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    Does anyone really know the acreage involved in poppy growing? Why not let the farmer grow his opium crop, pay him fair market value then destroy it when it is half grown and can't be salvaged? Farmer gets his money for only half his labor and doesn't hate America. The Taliban has to extort him to replace their opium income that has been destroyed. Major drug dealers are replaced as fast as they go down - its market driven and the money runs up into the echelons of politics, any cop knows that, what Holbrooke means is popping some of the middle men, which looks good in print.

  11. #31
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Two for goesh...

    These might be of interest...



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  12. #32
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Goesh's quest

    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    Does anyone really know the acreage involved in poppy growing? Why not let the farmer grow his opium crop, pay him fair market value then destroy it when it is half grown and can't be salvaged? Farmer gets his money for only half his labor and doesn't hate America. The Taliban has to extort him to replace their opium income that has been destroyed. Major drug dealers are replaced as fast as they go down - its market driven and the money runs up into the echelons of politics, any cop knows that, what Holbrooke means is popping some of the middle men, which looks good in print.
    Goesh,

    The alternative you pose has appeared here before, IIRC on several threads, usually on decriminalise / alternatives and very recently when comparisons were drawn between legal growing in the West and illegal in Afg. Try this long running thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=1234 I know you've been there!

    I am sure the acreage used in Afg is in the public domain, the UN Drug Control programme and I'd try this: help: http://davidmansfield.org/index.php
    Which has ots of reports on eradication and other counter-narcotic policies (mainly in Afghanistan) on a quick visit.

    Gretchen Peters has written on this theme too: http://gretchenpeters.org/ .

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-27-2009 at 09:45 AM. Reason: Add links mainly.

  13. #33
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default US Aid plus is a waste?

    Found this WaPo article via the ICSR blogsite: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...T2009061804190

    Added and apologies if here already.

    davidbfpo

  14. #34
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Agricultural Economics

    From the WSJ by YOCHI J. DREAZEN: U.S. Seeds New Crops to Supplant Afghan Poppies

    The new $300 million effort will give micro-grants to Afghan food-processing and food-storage businesses, fund the construction of new roads and irrigation channels, and sell Afghan farmers fruit seed and livestock at a heavy discount. The U.S. is spending six times as much on the push this year as the $50 million it spent in 2008.

    "We're trying to give the farmers alternatives so they can move away from the poppy culture without suffering massive unemployment and poverty," says Rory Donohoe, the U.S. Agency for International Development official leading the drive. "The idea is to make it easier for farmers to make the right choice."
    The eradication effort has been widely unpopular in Afghanistan and hasn't discernibly hurt the drug industry here. Afghanistan accounted for 12% of the world's opium production in 2001, according to the United Nations. By 2008, it accounted for 93%
    U.S. and Afghan officials also argue that the plunging price of opium -- which has dropped from $225 per kilogram of dried opium in January 2005 to $75 per kilo in April -- means many farmers could make more money selling wheat or corn.
    For many farmers, the question of what to grow comes down to cold economics. According to a recent U.N. report, the average poppy farmer in southern Afghanistan earned $6,194 in 2008. Farmers in the south who grew other crops earned just $3,382. The U.N. and U.S. estimate that $500 million of opium is grown each year in Helmand alone.

    Mr. Walid supports 23 people with his agricultural earnings. Corn and wheat prices are so low he will have to plow over his fields and replace them with poppy if market conditions don't improve: "I won't have a choice," he says.
    Abstract by Elsevier Ltd, paper by Philippe Chabota and Paul A. Dorosh: Wheat markets, food aid and food security in Afghanistan


    In Afghanistan, after two decades of civil strife and successive droughts from 1998 to 2002, large inflows of food aid, distributed mainly to returning refugees and through food for work programs, have helped offset production shortfalls of wheat, the country’s major staple. At the same time, private international trade from neighboring countries, especially Pakistan, has also played a major role in augmenting wheat supply and stabilizing prices.

    This paper presents an analysis of wheat prices and market flows in Afghanistan based on results of surveys of wheat traders and millers, and econometric analysis of price movements in major markets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In spite of food aid imports, domestic prices were not lowered below import parity levels in most major Afghan markets. Thus, the price evidence suggests that large-scale inflows of food aid, which benefited the country by providing resources for targeted food for work and other programs, did not have major price disincentive effects on domestic production, at least through mid-2003. However, following the 2003 bumper harvest, the analysis suggests that continued food aid inflows may have depressed producer prices by as much as about 15%. Moreover, given substantial prospects for rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure, there is ample scope for increasing domestic production of wheat and decreasing import demand, so price disincentive effects of food aid remain a possibility in the future, as well.
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  15. #35
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Aid minus fertiliser?

    SurferBeetle,

    After the frequent reports that the Taliban are using home made fertiliser IEDs in Helmand I trust that care is being taken in supplying a fertiliser which cannot be used as an explosive. I am assured such a product exists, maybe not locally available and so more costly.

    davidbfpo

  16. #36
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Fertilizer backgrounders...

    David,

    Having been on the wrong end of rocket, mortar, and rifle fire I can only imagine what being on the wrong side of an IED is like.

    I ran a quick google search, tending towards the idealistic side of the fertilizer spectrum, which might be of interest to you nonetheless.

    From Wikipedia: Fertilizers

    Fertilizers are chemical compounds applied to promote plant and fruit growth. Fertilizers are usually applied either through the soil (for uptake by plant roots) or by foliar feeding (for uptake through leaves).

    Fertilizers can be placed into the categories of organic fertilizers (composed of decayed plant/animal matter), or inorganic fertilizers (composed of simple chemicals and minerals). Organic fertilizers are 'naturally' occurring compounds, such as peat, manufactured through natural processes (such as composting), or naturally occurring mineral deposits; inorganic fertilizers are manufactured through chemical processes (such as the Haber process), also using naturally occurring deposits, while chemically altering them (e.g. concentrated triple superphosphate[1]).

    Properly applied, organic fertilizers can improve the health and productivity of soil and plants, as they provide different essential nutrients to encourage plant growth. Organic nutrients increase the abundance of soil organisms by providing organic matter and micronutrients for organisms such as fungal mycorrhiza, which aid plants in absorbing nutrients. Chemical fertilizers may have long-term adverse impact on the organisms living in soil[citation needed] and a detrimental long term effect on soil productivity of the soil[citation needed].

    Fertilizers typically provide, in varying proportions, the three major plant nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium known shorthand as N-P-K); the secondary plant nutrients (calcium, sulfur, magnesium) and sometimes trace elements (or micronutrients) with a role in plant or animal nutrition: boron, chlorine, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum and (in some countries) selenium.
    From Emerging Asia: Afghanistan’s Fertilizer Market: Reliant on Imports from Neighboring Countries

    Agriculture has traditionally been fundamental to the livelihood of the Afghan people, generating 50% of the country’s GDP and supporting 85% of its people. Use of fertilizers in Afghanistan has steadily grown since the 1970’s and today is one of the fastest growing markets in the country with at least $50M US Dollars invested during 2007 and 2008. Demand continues to be strong, and has been a driver of the sharp price increase in fertilizer experienced over recent years.
    Ghulam Mohammad Din, ltd appears to participate in a fairly large part of the market share of the Afghanistan fertilizer market.

    Rehabilitation of a 300 ton per day Urea Plant at Qala Jangi and 48MW Power Plant at Kud Bergh (Soviet era plant commissioned in 1974) Afghanistan appears to be underway by Global Edison.

    From USAID Affordable Seeds and Fertilizer Reduce Afghanistan’s Food Crisis

    More than six million Afghans do not have enough to eat, partially due to drought. USAID, in partnership with the Afghan government and the private sector, is combating Afghanistan’s food insecurity crisis by providing high-quality, subsidized wheat seeds and fertilizer to farmers in 14 northern and western provinces. As an alternative to direct food handouts, access to affordable agricultural supplies strengthens families, communities, and food economies by promoting local production, community decision-making, and farmer-supplier relationships.

    Farmers are chosen according to need by teams of Afghan stakeholders at the local, provincial, and national levels. More than 10,000 farmers in Bamyan received seeds and fertilizer in February, and distributions in 13 other provinces have benefitted more than 241,000 farmers to date. With an average farmer household of 6 individuals, the program has improved the lives of nearly 1.5 million Afghans over the past four months.

    Haji Kamal of Sari Pul is one of the drought-affected farmers that USAID has helped. "I have a shortage of seeds," Kamal says. "Our harvest has not paid off for two or three years, and we had to sell livestock to earn enough to eat. If I have good seeds, I can feed my family, and earn enough to live."
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 08-16-2009 at 04:21 PM.
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  17. #37
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Value Chain Analysis and diversified economy...

    Value Chain Analysis

    USAID Value Chain Analysis

    This briefing paper outlines some of the key elements of the value chain approach as articulated and promoted by USAID’s Microenterprise Development office. The value chain approach is used to drive economic growth with poverty reduction through the integration of large numbers of small enterprises into increasingly competitive value chains. Features discussed in the paper include a market system perspective, a focus on end markets, understanding the role of value chain governance, recognition of the importance of relationships, facilitating changes in firm behavior, transforming relationships, targeting leverage points and empowering the private sector.
    Perennial Horticulture in Eastern Afghanistan: Subsector Overview and Implementation Strategy by DAI (2005).

    The objectives of this subsector analysis of the fruit and nut sector were to identify crops with the greatest potential, identify key constraints to growth and develop an implementation strategy for ALP/E.

    Growth Strategy and Action Plan for the Carpet Cluster of Afghanistan by OTF Group (2006).


    This presentation includes an overview of the Afghanistan Competitiveness Project, a situation analysis of the international marble market and Afghanistan’s carpet industry, goal-setting for the cluster and the project, an analysis of buyers’ needs, Afghan carpet market positioning, and action guidelines.
    Marble Cluster Strategy by OTF Group (2006).

    This presentation includes an overview of the Afghanistan Competitiveness Project, a situation analysis of the international marble market and Afghanistan’s marble industry, goal-setting for the cluster and the project, an analysis of buyers’ needs, Afghan marble market positioning, and action guidelines.
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  18. #38
    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    How about infrasture for consumer needs or wants inside Afghanistan?

    Coke and Pepsi plants?

    Canned food plants?

    Consumer electronics, TVs, radios, plants to make such?

    Bicycle factories to built same?

    Auto and truck manufacturing plants?

    Hydrophonics, water based farming?

    Just some thoughts to broaden and deepen this discussion.

  19. #39
    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Economic analysis for George...

    Attributed to a Library of Congress Country Study of Afghanistan dated 14 January 2002 and linked here and here

    Manufacturing

    Private nonagricultural enterprise was usually small and family based. Private sector activities included services, such as internal and foreign commerce and transport. There was also a small private industrial sector, which included such operations as small machine shops and furniture-making establishments. Most of these shops were found in Kabul. The most important private industrial activity was handicrafts production. In 1981 the government estimated that the handicrafts sector contributed 9 percent of GNP and employed 300,000 people, far more than the work force in heavy industry and mining combined. Most of the workers were women. Handicrafts production was scattered throughout the country but was specialized by region. Textile embroidery and leather goods were found mostly in the south around Qandahar. Wood and stone carving were concentrated in the northeastern provinces, while jewelrymaking was done primarily in the Kabul area. Carpet and rug weaving, the most important handicraft, came from the north and northwest. Carpets and rugs provided over 10 percent of export revenues in 1981 and were especially popular in Western Europe. In addition, a significant number of carpets were thought to go into Iran unofficially. Afghan carpets were made of pure wool and were hand-knotted. Apart from carpets, however, the quality of handicraft goods was often poor. Production techniques were simple and had scarcely changed for generations. Output was directed primarily to local markets and was limited in volume. Crafts were often disappearing from the larger cities because the small elite's tastes were changing. It was developing a preference for modern imported goods rather than traditional objects of wealth. Artisans retained markets in smaller towns that served a traditional hinterland. Except for the small elite, however, private industrial operations continued to serve most people's needs for clothing, furnishings, and building materials.
    Mining

    In 1985 Afghanistan produced large amounts of natural gas and was preparing to exploit further other natural resource deposits. Natural gas was the most important mineral resource and industrial product. The country was thought to possess 110 to 150 billion cubic meters of total reserves. With Soviet assistance, production began in 1967 at the Kwoja Gugerdak field, 15 kilometers east of Sheberghan in Jowzjan Province. The field's reserves were thought to be 67 billion cubic meters. The Soviets also completed in 1967 a 100-kilometer gas pipeline, 820 millimeters in diameter, linking Keleft in the Soviet Union with Sheberghan. Other fields were discovered at Kwaja Bolan, Yatim Taq, and Jousik, with reserves of about 2.5 billion cubic meters. Gas production rose from 1.68 billion cubic meters in 1968 to 2.8 billion in 1980. In 1982 a new field at Jarquduk, also in Jowzjan, started production, again with Soviet aid. In spite of the new field, gas production slumped somewhat after the record year in 1980. In the mid1980s the country was producing about 2.5 to 2.6 billion cubic meters annually. The government attributed this decrease to reduced pressure in the gas fields (see table 8, Appendix).
    The government placed a high priority on expanding the country's natural gas industry. In 1985 the Afghans, with Soviet assistance were trying to restore pressure in the existing fields. In 1978 a gas desulfurization plant was completed by the Soviets at Jarquduk with a capacity of 2 billion cubic meters annually. The plant could also produce 15,000 tons of condensate annually. Geologic exploration intensified in the early 1980s with the key assistance of Soviet experts, despite hazards to their physical safety. Satellite photos were also used. In 1984 two new gas fields were found at Bashikor and Jangal in Jowzjan. Work on a second gas pipeline to the Soviet Union was also under way in the mid-1980s.

    The Soviets had long exhibited interest in the natural gas deposits across the Amu Darya in Afghanistan. They began geologic exploration in earnest in 1957 with the conclusion of a technical assistance agreement. From the beginning, Soviet aid was designed to promote large exports of natural gas to the Soviet Union. Although production started in 1967, there was no Afghan gas consumption until 1975, when about 2 percent of the output was diverted to a thermal power plant at Mazar-e Sharif. The value of these gas reserves jumped with the advent of the Iranian Revolution. In late 1979 a dispute over prices caused Tehran to halt gas exports to the Soviet Union. It was, as a result, a cold winter for many citizens of the Soviet Central Asian republics. After their intervention in Afghanistan, the Soviets secured control of the Afghan gas facilities, whose production aided the development of the Turkmen, Uzbek, and Tadzhik republics. By the mid-1980s gas exports to the Soviet Union represented 90 percent of total production and constituted a vital element in the Afghan budgetary and trade picture. The Soviets, however, paid Afghanistan a very low price for gas; in 1981 it was only half the price of Soviet gas piped to Western Europe. These relatively low prices dated back to the initial Afghan gas exports. Whereas world gas prices varied according to calorific value, Afghanistan received prices far below those of any major world exporter. In addition, Afghan officials were unable to verify the actual amount of gas pumped to the Soviet Union because the meters were on the Soviet side of the border, and Afghan officials had no access to them.

    Afghan gas consumption was concentrated in the city of Sheberghan, where in 1982 a local distribution network was finished. About 3,000 homes had access to the network. In 1980 the thermal electricity plant at Mazar-e Sharif was converted to operate on coal rather than gas. Gas still powered the thermal plants providing electricity for Balkh and Mazar-e Sharif, and the fertilizer plant at Mazar-e Sharif used gas as a production input.
    Agriculture

    Despite the low level of technical development and the slow growth rate of its output, agriculture dominated the economy throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The share of agricultural output in GDP remained about 60 percent between 1961 and 1980. These figures were probably too low, for a great deal of agricultural output remained on the farms as subsistence production. The economy's overall growth, therefore, depended largely on this sector. Rapid growth was not forthcoming. From 1965 to 1976 total agricultural output rose only 25 percent. On a per capita basis, output fell 4 percent during this period. The sector's rate of growth slowed after the Soviet invasion, with increases averaging just 1.4 percent annually between 1981 and 1983. By the 1980s output was rising faster than the size of the agricultural labor force, indicating improved productivity, although it was still very low. The government statistics indicating these trends had to be regarded with some skepticism, however. Agriculture employed the majority of the work force although its share was decreasing, from 64 percent in 1977 to 56 percent in 1982. Agriculture was the foundation of the economy not only because of its large contribution to GDP and national employment but also because it provided many of the materials upon which much of the country's industry and trade depended. Cotton was the critical raw material for the textile industries and a valuable export; wool was the main input for the important carpet industry and was also an important export commodity. Cottonseed was the key input for the extraction, refining, and soap industries. The sugar beet crop was refined domestically, and there was also fruit and nut processing and packaging for export. Hides and skins, such as karakul, were key inputs for much of the local handicrafts industry and were also major export items. Agricultural products constituted 75 percent of the country's exports in 1977, but this fell to 43 percent in 1984 as natural gas exports increased.

    After the drought of 1971-72 and the subsequent famine in parts of the country, self-sufficiency in food, especially wheat, became a major goal of the government. Production of cereals rose just enough during the 1970s to obviate the need for imports during years when the precipitation was normal. During dry years, however, such as 1977, the country had to import wheat and other staples. With the disruption of agriculture caused by the fighting after the coup, the government had to buy wheat from foreign suppliers to avoid scarcities. In 1982 Afghanistan imported over 200,000 tons of wheat from the Soviet Union, and estimates of imports in 1983 and 1984 rose to twice that figure.
    By the mid-1970s, however, the country's agricultural sector was making modest achievements. The weather was more favorable, and the use of fertilizers and pesticides was expanded. Fertilizer use increased from 9,000 tons in 1967 to over 100,000 tons in 1978. In the 1960s the United States Agency for International Development (AID) began a program that was designed to raise wheat output through higher yielding varieties-notably Mexipak-so that wheat output would rise enough to achieve basic self-sufficiency. New varieties of rice, sugarcane, sugar beets, and cotton were also introduced into the country. Average yields rose during the decade before the PDPA coup.
    The August 2008 Library of Congress Afghanistan Country Study can be found here (pdf pages 8-13 may be of added interest)
    Last edited by Surferbeetle; 08-16-2009 at 07:36 PM.
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