The history of agriculture begins over 12,000 years ago. The gradual transition from wild harvesting to deliberate cultivation developed independently in several areas around the globe.
The earliest domestication of animals and cultivation of plants originate across Southwest Asia and North Africa. In general, agriculture enabled the increase in population, leading to larger communities and eventually the development of villages and cities.
Afghanistan’s first signs of agriculture start around 6,000 years ago. In spite of aridity, small but persistent communities developed permanent settlements and began to engage in agricultural practices, as well as the herding of sheep, goats, horses and camels.
Today around 80 per cent of the Afghan population makes their living through agriculture. Over 30 per cent of the country’s income derives from agricultural products.
“After precious metals like gold and silver, agriculture products are the second important merchandises for the country’s economy. But farming is also a vital part of our cultural heritage. As an example, every year in spring time we celebrate the Farmer’s Day, where farmers come together, share experiences and best practices and put their skills and products on display,” said Mohammad Kateb Shams, director, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Balkh province.
This year farmers from 14 districts were invited to take part in the Farmer’s Day celebrations in Mazar-e Sharif, officials said.
Said Mahdi came all the way from Dehdadi district. He owns about 200 acres of land where he cultivates different crops. “Farming is an old and profitable profession. I am glad that our livelihood is highly appreciated and we have traditions like Farmers’ Day, where we can show the fruits of our hard work. At the same time this is a way to say no to poppy,” Mahdi said.
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with assistance from the international community, has taken a number of measures to improve the country’s agricultural sectors. They include training of farmers in modern agriculture and animal husbandry techniques, vaccination programmes for cattle, distribution of reformed seeds, construction of cold storages, greenhouses, modern irrigation system and farm-to-market roads across the country.
According to Tolo News, a new centre, funded by the European Union and devoted to measuring fruit quality, was opened in Mazar-e Sharif. Fruit quality and gardening development are priorities of Balkh’s agriculture and livestock department, Shams said.
According to the Balkh Agriculture Department, the province is able to produce 480 kinds of fruits, which currently cover 1,000 acres of land.