Rejuvenating Olive Groves

An Afghan farmer works in the olive fields of Nangarhar.
An Afghan farmer works in the olive fields of Nangarhar.
Rehabilitated olive orchards generate jobs for laborers
USAID is helping revitalize a legendary olive industry, providing farmers with immediate income while rebuilding groves that will bring future wealth.
Nangarhar, a province in eastern Afghanistan, was once home to over 5,000 hectares of olive orchards. The province was famous for its olives, and raw olives were once one of the largest agricultural industries in the country, but decades of violence led to the destruction of many of the province’s olive groves.
In response, USAID partnered with the Nangarhar Valley Development Authority sponsoring a full-scale rejuvenation of olive groves that had once been a source of pride for people living there. The project launched an intensive effort to prune 665 hectares of orchards, which are expected to increase the olive harvest by 1,200 metric tons during the 2007 harvest season.
Afghan olive growers use cuttings from pruning to plant more than 80,000 new olive trees. The program helps provincial farmers gain quality approval by laboratories — an important step before selling their olive oil to foreign markets. USAID is also connecting Afghan traders with buyers in Europe and China to revamp the olive business in eastern Afghanistan.
In addition to promoting a long-term goal of rejuvenating the olive industry, USAID helps people generate income through cash-for-work activities. In fact, the olive project has already employed Afghans for over 25,600 days.
By combining the efforts and expertise, USAID’s olive rejuvenation program promotes short- and long-term goals by rehabilitating groves, developing markets, and employing people.