Herat, Afghanistan - One of the most difficult challenges for female farmers and women operating agriculture-related businesses in Afghanistan is access to credit. In addition, many women often do not understand how credit can help support the growth and expansion of their businesses.
To address that challenge, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Agricultural Credit Enhancement Phase-II project (ACE-II) today played host to the third in a series of Women's Agricultural Credit Shuras in Herat to raise women's awareness about agricultural credit. The one-day event brought together a number of microfinance institutions operating in Afghanistan along with financial experts to share their knowledge and experiences with the women.
"Increasing agricultural output remains a critical element of the entire Afghan economy and access to credit is a key component of achieving that growth," said USAID Mission Director Herbert Smith.
The women received practical training on how to apply for and manage credits. In addition, participants were briefed on women's economic rights, the types of credits available (both conventional and Islamic) and how credits could help grow their businesses or farm outputs.
The Shura program, conducted throughout the country, has fostered the concept that agricultural loans are ideal opportunities for the agricultural sector and the inclusion of women in agricultural credit and finance ensures continued growth for Afghanistan's agricultural sector. The provincial government of Herat and the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock support the program.
USAID's Agricultural Credit Enhancement project seeks to expand access to agriculture-related credit to increase commercial viability of small- and medium-size farms and agribusinesses as a necessary condition for a thriving agricultural economy.
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With almost $17 billion spent on development programs in Afghanistan since 2002, USAID provides the largest bilateral civilian assistance program to Afghanistan. USAID partners with the government and people of Afghanistan to ensure economic growth led by the country's private sector, to establish a democratic and capable state governed by the rule of law, and to provide basic health and education services for all Afghans.
Development Outreach and Communication Office USAID/AFGHANISTAN