In Afghanistan, the percentage of women involved in agricultural production is estimated at 65% of the agricultural workforce. Women carry out the bulk of the value-adding activities as domestic chores while the trading and marketing of finished agricultural products are carried out almost exclusively by men who are also the main financial beneficiaries of the process. "Value Chain Governance and Gender: Saffron Production in Afghanistan" identifies constraints and explores opportunities for women to participate and improve their position in various stages of saffron production.
This paper is based on a report prepared for the School of Governance, Maastricht University (the Netherlands) as part of a study on remitances between the Netherlands and Afghanistan, commissioned and funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The authors wish to thank Melissa Siegel (School of Governance,Maastricht University) for her construcGve comments on the various versions of the report and all those who agreed to be interviewed for the Afghanistan part of this study.
Despite the chronic conflict in Afghanistan over the years, anecdotal information points to sustained entrepreneurial actvity: a look around any major population center or some rural areas in Afghanistan reveals numerous cases of entrepreneurship, particularly among the small-scale producers across the country, in a wide range of areas from dairy and poultry production to carpet weaving, iron mongering, auto repair and parts production, and carpentry.
Afghanistan has come out of a decades-long intermittent period of armed conflict which has severely limited the capacity and the ability of the state to provide services to meet even the most basic needs of the population. With an average per capita GDP of less than US $200 Afghanistan was in 2001 one of the poorest countries in the world, with its formal institutions and infrastructure virtually destroyed.
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the people of Afghanistan have had high expectations about gaining access to improved social services. However, despite high levels of foreign assistance, the government's capacity to deliver these services remains very limited. This has led to some innovations in service delivery models, often using private and non-governmental agents (e.g., in health and through NSP). Five years on, this is now a good time to assess the effectiveness of these different models, to see whether they could be extended into other areas (e.g.
The devastation caused by the decades-long conflict since the late 1970s has severely limited Afghanistan's capacity to provide energy through the conventional grid system which, at any rate, at no point in time extended to cover the whole country. Currently an estimated 16% of the population concentrated in urban centers has access to power from a grid system which offers poor quality and intermittent service. The power sector suffers from a general shortage of expertise, unavailability of spare parts, and aging and inadequately maintained equipment.