Afghanistan Farm Service Alliance
The Afghanistan Farm Service Alliance (AFSA) program was launched as an innovative Global Development Alliance (GDA) program dedicated to increasing the incomes of farmers in Afghanistan through the support and development of a robust input supply network. Funded in two phases, CNFA led this four-year, $9.5 Million program and established 18 Farm Service Centers (FSCs) in 17 provinces, ensuring that Afghan farmers would have access to affordable, timely and reliable access to quality inputs and services such as seeds, fertilizer, crop protection products, agriculture extension and access to credit. FSCs received matching grant funding, along with capacity building training and business network development support. The matching grant model proved to be highly successful, with grant funding stimulating more than $49 Million added sales of licit goods by FSCs.
The overall goal of AFSA was to increase the incomes of farmers in Afghanistan. To reach this goal, CNFA and its AFSA partners achieved these primary objectives:
- Establish sustainable and improved commercial input supply and farm service infrastructure in Afghanistan;
- Ensure that farmers have affordable, timely and reliable access to quality inputs and services, seeds, fertilizers, crop protection products and agriculture extension;
- Link farmers to expanding cash market opportunities so that they may fully benefit from productivity and quality improvements brought about by the use of new inputs;
- Effectively integrate women into the agricultural workforce through woman-owned FSCs and by mobilizing women’s farmer groups and organizations;
- Serve as a pioneering example of the “Afghan First” philosophy, successfully completing a transition to an all-Afghan team in 2010.
Farm Service Center Model: CNFA built a strong foundation for long-term agricultural development by catalyzing the growth of rural FSCs. FSCs improve access to high-quality inputs such as high-quality seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides but also provide platforms for agricultural extension, access to credit, post-harvest handling and output marketing services. We trained FSC owners and managers in business and inventory management, business plan development, new business development, marketing, and record keeping. Collectively, FSCs in Kabul (2), Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Laghman, Kunar, and Zabul (Phase One) and Nangarhar, Logar, Wardak, Parwan, Kapisa, Takhar, Kunduz, Balkh, Uruzgan, and Nimroz (Phase Two) benefited more than 95,000 Afghan farmers.
Association Development: CNFA facilitated the creation of the Farm Service Center Association of Afghanistan (FSCAA), a business alliance of FSC owners, which acts as a steering committee to ensure that the alliance effectively improves services of its member FSCs. Since its creation in 2009, the FSCAA has expanded to 25 members, including 18 FSCs, 6 Ag-Depots, and 1 Agro Dealer. The FSCAA sets standards for stores and is a means to jointly pursue business opportunities. When feasible, the FSCAA acts on behalf of its members as a single, collective organization bidding on relatively large input supply contracts. The FSCAA is registered with the Ministry of Commerce and the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) and brokers vital links between FSCs and development aid, as well as other public and private sector organizations, enabling FSCs to draw in resources and increase their ability to render goods and services. We provided technical assistance to FSCAA directors in developing business connections and creating a sustainable institution capable of continuing to foster the growth of Afghanistan’s input supply network after the close of the AFSA program.
Numerous USAID projects have both requested and been invited to join the Alliance to benefit from a connection with a successful farm input supply network. The FSCAA is currently financially supported by several funding streams: A grant from the USAID-funded Afghanistan Farm Service Alliance and annual fees from the members, expected collection of fees from current loans provided to several FSCs through the Agricultural Development Fund (ACE/ADF), and collection of a facilitator fee from FSC input supply agreements with PRTs and other external input supply agreements.
Women’s FSCs: In Afghanistan, most input supply stores and government extension programs are staffed entirely by men and are inaccessible to women. In February of 2009, AFSA established the first women-owned and operated FSC providing agricultural inputs in Afghanistan. Further seeking to create equal access for women to ag-inputs, three of the FSCs established under AFSA (in Kabul, Parwan, and Balkh) are operated by women and specifically target women farmers as customers. These women-operated FSCs deliver services to female farmers in Kabul and neighboring provinces, where the social convention has long prevented women from purchasing farm inputs and receiving extension services. The women-led FSCs also offer agricultural supplies catered to goods and products that women are producing, including canning and pickling, and provide training specifically geared to female agriculturalists.
The Kabul FSC, in particular, sells an array of products targeting traditional productive activities for woman such as handicrafts, food curing and processing, charcoal production, embroidery and sewing, jam and pickle production, and baking. Its short-term agricultural sector productivity training has reached over 500 women since the store’s opening.
- FSCs directly employ more than 388 individuals and benefit more than 95,100 rural households;
- More than 37,690 farmers received short-term agricultural sector productivity training including more than 500 women through the Kabul Women’s FSC;
- AFSA increased sales of licit farm and non-farm products by $49,468,883;
- 10,126 farmers benefited from program-supported financial agreements.