Afghanistan: USAID-funded programs train hundreds in agricultural skills

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Kabul, Afghanistan | Tuesday, December 08, 2009 - More than 300 young farmers in Laghman and Khost provinces last month finished training programs funded by USAID's Local Governance and Community Development program that taught them agricultural skills to secure better jobs and produce better crops. Similar programs are planned for January.

In Khost, about 150 men and women in five districts graduated from training programs that included topics ranging from pest management to marketing. The graduation of the farmers, ranging in age from 15 to 25, coincided with the opening of 25 new greenhouses that help the young graduates put what they learned into practice.

Speaking at the ceremony, Eng. Said Rahman Ziarmal, director of the province's agriculture department, expressed hope that the greenhouses will allow Khost residents to grow and keep more of their food during the winter season. Poor storage facilities typically force farmers to sell their produce to neighboring Pakistan, which exports back vegetables and other food staples at marked-up prices.

In Laghman, approximately 200 young men completed another USAID-funded vocational training program. The program matches skills for community needs and promises to bring employment to the province while supporting the Afghan government's counter-insurgency efforts.

Project managers in the province now focus their efforts on the Laghman district of Alishang, where rampant unemployment has made it exceedingly difficult to establish a stable Afghan government presence.

"These projects are important to the well-being and economic development of Afghanistan," said Rebecca Black, Deputy Mission Director of USAID in Afghanistan. "They give the young adults the skills that not only would offer them hope but would ultimately sustain hope for their community."