16 January 2012 | Balkh, Afghanistan
Balkh Women’s Farm Service Center officially opened today with a ceremony marking the occasion attended by Mohammad Emran, the Head of Plant Protection of Provincial Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Saifura Niazai and Brishna Rabi, Members of Parliament, and other Afghan and U.S. Government officials, and donor community representatives.
Balkh Women’s Farm Service Center is one of 18 farm service centers across Afghanistan established through USAID’s Afghanistan Farm Service Alliance (AFSA) Project, and the second agriculture retail outlet tailored specifically for women farmers. The first Women’s Service Center was established in Kabul in August 2010, and the third is soon to be opened in Parwan Province.
Speaking at the ceremony, USAID Field Program Officer Amy Bruins said, “The United States Government is proud to assist dedicated women who are working to support their families, feed their children, and contribute to the overall growth and prosperity of the economy of Afghanistan.”
Balkh Women’s Farm Service Center provides easy access to high quality seeds, fertilizers, crop protection products, livestock medicines, greenhouses and machinery services to female farmers in the area and is operated entirely by women—from sales staff to technical trainers. Sales from this newly established store already exceed $200,000. The store has created six new jobs and also functions as an outlet for the products of other household enterprises headed by females, such as jams, pickles, honey, and handicrafts. Funded through a matching grant program, Balkh Women’s Farm Service Center will benefit more than 3,700 local women, and will serve as the prototype for several women's Farm Service Centers to be located throughout Balkh Province.
Eighteen USAID-supported farm service centers currently operate throughout Afghanistan, offering high quality products such as seed, fertilizer, animal feed, tools, machinery, and greenhouse supplies. Since the establishment of the first farm service center in March, 2008, the sales for these stores have reached $38.7 million. The centers benefit more than 74,153 Afghan households, and have created 354 jobs, trained more than 28,800 people, and provided access to credit for 3,287 farmers.