Dairy Goat Management Leads to Lasting Gains for Afghan Women
To enhance the benefits of dairy goat rearing, which is a common source of income for poor families in rural Afghanistan, a project was implemented by the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) and ICARDA, and funded by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD). Started in 2010, this project was primarily geared to provide poor rural households, especially women, with the skills, knowledge, and initial inputs to engage in profitable dairy goat production – to improve their livelihoods, nutrition, and income. The initiative aimed to expand the number of Afghan women who have access to dairy goats, specifically targeting three categories of women: those owning between one and three goats but who remain poor; those rearing goats who need technical assistance; and those with no goats but with goat-raising experience. The project worked with 1396 women organized into 154 groups, across 26 villages in Baghlan and Nangarhar Provinces. The project combined research and development activities in which groups of poor women received technology packages to improve goat and forage production systems. The packages included local goat breeds; approaches for improved dairy production, nutrition, and health; community-based adaptive research; and dissemination of knowledge. Technical support and capacity building activities for the women’s groups were some of the key components of this project. Over 1000 women were trained. Since the supply of forage and feed is critical for the success and sustainability of any goat raising activity, the project also delivered training and support for the development of nutritious feed mixes using locally grown ingredients to replace the imported concentrates.