UK aid helping Afghan farmers grow viable alternatives to poppy - picture essay

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Agriculture is the backbone of the Afghan economy. It accounts for 80 per cent of jobs - many of them seasonal - and involves over 55 per cent of households. It contributes to more than one third of the country's GDP.

UKaid from the UK government is helping farmers in Helmand to move away from growing poppy, and instead grow viable alternatives like wheat, vegetables and citrus fruits.

The UK government’s £28 million Helmand Growth Programme is: helping to raise incomes for farmers who grow legal crops; supporting those who are planning to start and run their own businesses; improving access to markets; improving access to credit and finance; and training young people in agriculture.

UK aid is also funding a programme to build new roads, and upgrade existing poor roads, so farmers can get their crops to market much faster. Shorter journey times mean fewer crops spoil and farmers realise legal crops are viable. Over the next four years, UKaid will build or upgrade over 47 kilometres of roads in Helmand.

UK aid has helped build Helmand Agriculture High School. The School trains around 270 18-25 year olds per year in modern farming techniques, helping to ensure the next generation of farmers is equipped to grow crops.

Click here to view a picture essay about Afghan farmers