Facility for Agricultural and Rural Market Development (FARM)

Project description

Title: Facility for Agricultural and Rural Market Development (FARM)
Commissioned by: European Union (EU)
Financier: European Union (EU)
Country: Afghanistan
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), Afghanistan
Overall term: 2016 to 2020

Saffron value chain


Afghanistan’s agricultural sector has expanded substantially since the end of the Taliban rule. However, individual farmers’ income and productivity remain far behind levels common in neighbouring countries. Afghanistan’s 2.9 per cent per annum growth in agricultural value added barely keeps pace with the rapid population growth of 2.8 per cent per annum, which carries obvious critical implications such as poverty and national food insecurity. 

Despite numerous international support initiatives, lack of a sustainable access to quality resource inputs and services remains a serious bottleneck for Afghan farmers. Neither the public extension sector nor the private sector has so far been able to provide Afghan farmers with an adequate supply of quality inputs, services or information. A combination of both public and private services is considered vital in order to fill the current vacuum due to the high proportion of subsistence farmers (60 per cent of all farms comprise less than one hectare land) unable to pay market prices for vital agricultural inputs, services and information. 


Prosperous, stable and resilient rural communities are created through the promotion of sustainable economic growth and employment in rural areas. In this regard, sustainable licit agricultural production in both quantitative and qualitative terms is improved and value-addition for agricultural products is promoted.  

Onion Storage 3


The project comprises three components: 

  • Sector Governance and Knowledge Management; 
  • Establishment of Farmer Learning Resource Centres (undertaken by World Bank supported National Horticulture and Livestock Project (NHLP)); 
  • Catalysing the enhanced use of input supplies and services. 

GIZ is responsible for implementation of components 1 and 3. Component 1 aims to establish the foundation for a Sector-Wide Approach based on a strengthened, farmer-oriented extension outreach model including Standard Operating Procedures. For effective programme implementation, a close partnership with government entities and strong ownership by agriculture sector stakeholders in FARM project implementation is vital. The project supports the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) as well as the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) in implementing a ‘leveraged’ extension outreach model that is based on MAIL’s sectoral experience and supported by MRRD’s in community mobilisation. With existing Government channels, new digital communication tools, and the use of community development councils, the programme establishes a bi-directional communication strategy for MAIL/MRRD and the wider extension outreach system.

Component 3 of the project supports farmers in making more effective use of inputs in order to increase rural incomes and profitability. The project has selected a number of value chains (saffron, apple, almond, grape, onion, honey, pomegranate) and based on consultation with value chain actors, has selected precise bottlenecks in each value chain in order to generate value added benefit for producers. 

By strengthening value chains, support investment and linkages to off-farm production, the programme promotes commercial farming. As women are an important part of the target group and play a key role to reduce poverty and improve nutrition of family, the programme considers gender aspects. In this regard, EU FARM works specifically with women in the saffron and food processing sectors.

Onion storage 2


In Component 1, the project completed the analysis and collation of existing training and extension materials at MAIL. Furthermore, it drew up up-to-date curricula for key value chains in each agro-ecological zone. The project established and implemented Farm Learning Resource Centres in Herat as pilot province and prepared groundwork for establishing centres in other provinces. Moreover, the project delivered training to extension staff in order to develop capacities in communication and moderation. 

In Component 3, pilot processing centres were implemented in Herat and Balkh, to educate farmers in efficient production techniques in order to improve the production and quality of Saffron, Grapes/Raisins, Almonds and Onions.