Project description / objective
To strengthen the agriculture and manufacturing sectors in northern Afghanistan so that government and businesses can innovate and compete and contribute to the creation of more and better jobs for those who need them most.
Using a market system approach, R2J partnered with several private sector companies in northern Afghanistan. They targeted the six selected sub-sectors and addressed cross-cutting issues such as access to finance and women’s economic empowerment. These sectors are labour-intensive, have a high reliance on wage labour inputs - not just smallholder production - and can create jobs accessible for poor and vulnerable groups.
The project combined quick wins and light-touch interventions as part of a two-fold strategy to improve inclusive employment for marginalised groups: skills capacity-building for selected sectors on the one hand, whilst on the other developing inclusive business models to increase company productivity and creating decent work opportunities for the poor.
Market systems focus
Traditionally a female-dominated trade but women are becoming excluded because of social norms that limit mobility outside their homes and their lack of skills in modern digitalised designs.
In the Samangan region about one in eight sheep and goats die every year due to lack of access to - and poor quality - veterinary services in the villages.
The poultry sector has grown significantly during recent years but farmers still lack access to inputs and knowledge on how to improve the performance of their businesses.
Agricultural value-chains for grapes, almonds, cotton
The drive for decent job creation requires spaces for dialogue to reinforce unity of purpose among actors, ensured cross-learning while focusing on addressing pertinent issues in the different agricultural value chains.
Community weaving centres
R2J supported a local carpet company to establish and pilot community weaving centres with childcare facilities. Here 296 women could receive training on digitalised carpet designs and produce modern carpets for export markets. The company has adopted this new business model, opening several new weaving centres and continuing training and hiring women in the region.
Improving access to para-veterinary services
R2J approached the Afghan Veterinary Association (AVA) to do an in-depth training needs assessment and design a training programme to equip 18 veterinary shop owners to make them qualified ‘paravets’ that would increase farmer access to animal health services.
Poultry sector innovation
Organic fertiliser production
R2J supported a local company to provide theoretical and practical training to poultry farmers / enterprises on how to produce quality compost from chicken litter. The project has co-financed the research on chicken litter conversion processes to prepare a pilot organic fertilser and helped several other companies to establish poultry buyback schemes for poultry husbandry with poor farmers in Samangan and Balkh.
Agricultural value chains (grapes, almonds, cotton)
Multi-stakeholder platforms for value-chain coordination in grapes, cotton, almonds
R2J brought together the Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) and National Union of Afghanistan Workers and Employees (NUAWE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livelihoods (MAIL) to drive the decent job creation agenda.
The project helped convene multi-stakeholders platforms to promote coordination and collaboration among market systems actors working in the same sectors.
Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)
The project is ongoing but in less than five years of implementation R2J has:
- contributed to the improvement of 49,468 jobs (out of which 1,113 for women) for smallholder farmers, women entrepreneurs, service providers and employees in partner companies in selected agricultural and manufacturing sub-sectors
- in particular, the paravet intervention has contributed to reduce livestock mortality rates by 50 per cent for 46,000 livestock farmers supported by paravets.
- the multi-stakeholders platforms and meetings have led to collaborations between private sector players
- in the grape sector, for instance, a company producing grapes partnered with a cold storage company to increase their durability
- in the cotton value chain market actors joined forces to invest in research for seed improvement
The project is still analysing results and systemic changes. More data will be available in early 2020.
[uploaded December 2019]