This study documents how the Helmand Food Zone was developed, its origins and architects, as well as the different actors involved in the implementation and the subsequent challenges of delivery. Initially presented as a drug control project, the Helmand Food Zone came to be accredited for supporting stabilisation and governance in the Helmand province between 2008 and 2012. Driven by political demands rather than evidence, the program became a flagship in Helmand, and lauded as a success, despite evidence to the contrary. The study builds on in-depth fieldwork and high-resolution satellite imagery collected before, during and after the implementation of the Helmand Food Zone, as well as interviews with some of the main protagonists in the donor community. In total, 4,122 household interviews took place with farmers over an 11-year period in either all or some of the 28 research sites in Helmand province, in areas both north and south of the Boghra canal. The latest body of fieldwork was conducted in spring 2018 and consisted of 310 interviews in the same research sites, supplemented with a further 52 interviews with women who resided in former desert areas.