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RMLSP and CLAP Women Groups at the Spring Agfair

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) held its Spring AgFair at the Badam Bagh Research Farm located in Kabul City. The Rural Microfinance and Livestock Support Program (RMLSP) and the Community Livestock and Agriculture Project (CLAP) funded by IFAD had its separate booth representing contributions in empowering rural poor women with their small business development and participation in community and family level decisions.

During the four-day over 180,000 visitors have reportedly visited the Agfair    which was a great opportunity for the women producer groups to show their agricultural products and demonstrate their strengths in rural economy. The women producer groups also had the opportunity to sell their products such as local Afghan dresses, handy crafts, cookies, dairy products, homemade candies, pickles and eggs.

Mrs. Zahra Mohammadi isa self-help group team leader with 20 members from Bamyan a remote and mountainous Province. She provides guidance and assists women to handle administers her self-help group member’s micro business. Previously she participated in several handicrafts exhibitions in Afghanistan. She plays an active role in the women empowerment at the community level in Bamyan Province as a result she is receivingsignifiant supports from the provincial Women Affairs Department like exhibition booth reservation and some other necessary technical assistances.

Zahrah is quite optimistic about the role she plays in empowering her fellow local poor women, she says “I will continue my activities beyond the duration of RMLSP’s financial and technical support and will establish my own business as an association and extend it throughout Afghanistan.”The spring and autumn Agfairs provide rural women with the opportunity to collaborate, share their experience, demonstrate products, facilitate market access, and increase their product’s market. This way AgFair paves the ground for the RMLSP and CLAP supported women producer groups make products and generate income to improve their poor rural livelihood. AgFair is a Ministry of Agriculture led process that is conducted tow times a year in March and October.

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This is an excellent initiative. This could be transferred into other countries in the region. In Lao PDR, for example, traditional hand weaving patterns are being lost as it is cheaper to import machine woven fabrics for sale for tourists in Luang Prabang. There was an UN trade cluster project that was working on this which established certification for locally woven fabrics. They also worked on locally produced organic vegetables for bulk sale in restaurants. Salads and other vegetables were previously flown in from abroad. The premiums from locally woven fabrics can help weavers to lift them from poverty; these funds can then be invested into nutrition-sensitive diets in households, and the diversification of agricultural production. These can include local varieties that are resilient to climate change, and can further be sold for profit. This can also be linked to fair trade schemes. There are currently very few fair trade products from the Mekong Region. Fair Trade premiums can be used to build schools, renewable energy, especially solar, water/sanitation, etc.

Posted on 4/22/16 3:04 AM.

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