CARD-F is working on the development of commercially viable cotton value Chain in Balkh District of Balkh Province. The main objective of this initiative is to provide alternative employment opportunities for the rural farmers. This initiative will develop a commercially viable and sustainable system for producing, processing and marketing cotton and derived products. It aims to increase the demand for seed cotton by providing technical and marketing assistance to selected cotton processors and to ensure that farmers can respond to the increased demand.
Field Farmer School (FFS)
CARDF created two cooperatives which contains 500 members since March 2013. Each cooperative contains 250 beneficiaries that are divided into 10 Field Farmer School (FFS) with 25 farmers in each FFS. Each FFS has a lead farmer, who is responsible to carry out the trainings which he received to the entire group. CARDF usually conducts ToT trainings for lead farmers and extension agents, so that the lead farmers train the remaining farmers. So far 500 farmers have been trained through this initiative in different topics including land preparation, sowing, planting, irrigation, weeding, integrated pest and disease management, fertilizer application and best practices in harvest and post-harvest management in 15 demonstration plots made for this purpose by CARD-F.
In order to fundamentally support the cotton value chain CARD-F is providing farmers with improved seeds to boost their productivity and to further encourage the farmers in growing cotton. So far CARD-F has provided 500 farmers in Balkh district with four tons of Anjoman, one ton Maxic and Acala 15-17-99 varieties of cotton seed. These seeds will improve the quantity and quality of cotton production in Balkh district and will result in improved cotton production.
In addition to the improved seeds CARD-F is also providing farmers with an input package that includes, DAP, Urea, pesticide, insecticide and herbicides. In addition to the chemicals, CARD-F also provides a set of tools for the ease of agriculture practices such as hoe, shovel, plastic pots, bucket, wheelbarrow, sprayer sickle and cotton sacks.
Since, productivity directly depends to soil fertility; therefore, it’s very important to have enough information about the macro and micro nutrients of soil and the exact amount of soil nutrient deficiency. CARDF established a soil lab for testing the soil of cotton fields, in order to determine the amount of fertilizer application and other nutrients. If the soil is fertile enough the fertilizer will decrease and if the soil is less fertile fertilizer utilization rate will increase.
Trainings – Cross Cutting Intervention
Throughout all different stages in the value chain, CARD-F’s extension agents support and provide assistance to the farmers. These trainings start from preparing the land in the demonstration plots and continue to sowing, planting, irrigating, weeding, integrated pest and disease management, fertilizer application, proper cotton picking, storing, packaging, transporting and finally ginning. All the way from the initial to the final stages is accompanied with CARD-F support.
Transportation and storage,
Storing and transporting of cotton requires critical skills. Therefore, CARD-F makes sure that necessary support is provided to the farmers while doing so. CARDF plays effective role for increasing farmers’ know-how on the transportation and storing of the cotton from the field to the ginning facility.
Ginning is the most critical part of the cotton value chain. CARD-F is increasing the capacity of people working in this area in order to introduce additional steps to the value chain. However, currently the last stage of value addition within Afghanistan is the ginning process. Since ginning plays significant role for showing the quality of cotton products to international markets and is the step which provide capital for farmers livelihood, therefore, it needs critical attention of ginners and cotton producers. CARDF support ginners by providing them with exposure visits to international markets and famous ginning companies around the world. These linkages enable ginners to get exposed to the machineries used by other ginning facilities and find potential business deals with people in the same business. Furthermore, CARDF provided technical trainings on best ginning practices and oil refinery for 10 gin operators and 10 gin selectors inside and outside the country.
After the ginning process the cotton is separated from its seeds. The seeds are then distributed into several categories. In first place some of the cotton seed is used by the farmers for the cotton cultivation in the subsequent season. The other portion of seeds is used by the oil refineries to produce edible and the remaining seeds are made seed-cakes for the animal consumption. CARD-F is looking forward to upgrade an existing oil refining facility and to establish another facility on cost-sharing basis with two ginning facility owners in Balkh province. The existence of oil refineries is adding additional value to the cotton value chain.