Today, Germany and Afghanistan took the first step in transferring the “Roses for Nangarhar” development project to an Afghan company, Afghan Roses Ltd. At today’s ceremony in the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation & Development (MRRD), a memorandum of understanding was signed with the goal of transferring the project from public to private Afghan ownership.
Appreciating German’s cooperation with Afghanistan, Minister Nasir Ahmad Durrani, the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development said, “This is a successful project that embodies the vision of the new government – support to agricultural production, development of private enterprise, commercial linkages to the domestic and international markets, and an increase in income to the farmers working in the fields.”
“Roses for Nangarhar” started in 2004 as part of a cooperation programme with the MRRD funded by the European Union. Between 2009 and 2013 it received direct support from the German government, with GIZ and Welthungerhilfe responsible for managing the project.
The aim was to provide former poppy farmers with an alternative to cultivating drugs illegally, in this case, by growing roses. After processing the flowers into organic rose oil, the product can be sold on the international market. Today, instead of opium poppies, 714 farmers grow roses for oil on 101 hectares of farmland in the Nangarhar highlands.
The project is now at a stage where it can be transferred to private Afghan ownership. Following a strict and transparent selection process, Afghan Rose Ltd. was chosen to take over the distilling factory outside Jalalabad. Through sustainable processing and marketing of rose products, the company has the possibility to grow in the future.
As the project showed, the market and industry for rose oil offers Afghanistan great opportunities. By tapping the possibilities for exporting their goods, farmers can sustain their incomes legally. New jobs can also be created, contributing to improvements in the lives of the rural population.
It is to be noted that representatives from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Welthungerhilfe joined Minister Nasir Ahmad Durrani and other parties at the signing ceremony.