Afghanistan: FAO rehabilitates olive plantation in Nangarhar province

FAO's Horticulture Programme in response to Afghanistan rehabilitation plan
Kabul, 20 February 2003 - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is supporting the Nangarhar Valley Development Authority (NDVA) to rehabilitate 20 hectares of olive plantation in the farm of Batikot, in the Nangarhar province in Afghanistan. This pilot phase is a step towards the rehabilitation of 1 400 hectares of olive orchards out of over 2 000 hectares still existing in the area.

The NDVA is one of the large agriculture and economic state owned projects in Afghanistan. It is part of the administrative setup of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. NDVA owns the Olive Processing Factory. It produced 50 tonnes of olive oil and over 1 700 tonnes of pickles in 1980. The production fell to 8.5 tonnes of olive oil with no pickle production in 2001.

The project also gives training to 20 experienced technicians in tree pruning, orchard cultivation and use of fertilizers. An additional 80 labourers were recruited by FAO for the implementation of basic tree pruning activities, who are assisted by the Food for Work Programme of the World Food Programme.

The tree pruning activities include the removal of water sprouts and suckers to rejuvenate fruiting wood, and the thinning of branches to capture air and light needed for an improved yield. The pruning also facilitates the access to the branches for the olive harvesters.

FAO would support the development of this 'niche-market' of olive oil from Afghanistan for exportation.

The 20 hectare olive plantation, which represent 8 000 trees, could produce an average of 30 kg of olives per tree with an extraction rate of 15 percent by the olive processing factory of Jalalabad, i.e. a production of 36 000 litres of olive oil.

The activities started at the beginning of February and will last for two months. The FAO project will donate 50 saws, 100 pruning scissors, 50 lopping shears and four tonnes of fertilizer to the NDVA staff.

These activities support the rehabilitation of the horticultural sector in Afghanistan. The main objective is to rehabilitate horticultural crop production and promote commercial timber production, a key policy and strategy element of the newly established Government to rehabilitate a sustainable rural economy while contributing to the alleviation of poverty and malnutrition.

This activity is funded by the Government of Italy.

For more information on FAO's activities in Afghanistan please contact:
Etienne Careme, Information Officer, FAO Afghanistan, Tel: 070.285054,