Afghanistan: “Women's Garden” in Herat Big Hit at the Agricultural Fair

20. November 2012

Agricultural Minister visited the stand – AND cooperative has survived locusts, heat and storms

Against all the odds, the agricultural cooperative “Saadat” set up by the international Christian aid agency Shelter Now is doing well. Sixty families belong to the cooperative near the western Afghan city of Herat. They're growing crops, fruit, vegetables and saffron.

The “Women's Garden” that is attached to it has now even attracted the interest of Afghanistan's Agricultural Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi. The minister paid the women's stand a visit at the Agricultural Fair in Herat. “We were able to sell one third of our pickles and preserves and build up valuable contacts on the domestic market”, says Shelter Now agricultural expert Ewald Göttler.  

The “Women's Garden”, which includes outdoor gardens, greenhouses and a processing center, is run by 20 women. This fall, they are busy harvesting spinach, carrots, onions, herbs, radishes, turnips and green beans. Whatever is not destined for immediate consumption is preserved, by being made for example into mixed pickles or chutney. Fresh mint is also dried at the center ready to be sold later. Some of the young vegetable plants are brought on in the greenhouses before being planted outside later. By selling the surplus produce and the preserves, the women are now able to make their own contribution to the family income. Fig trees are likely to become another important mainstay of the women's garden - 400 young trees have developed well this year, despite late frost in the spring. Another 400 are to be planted next spring.  

After the strongest desert winds in 6 decades wreaked havoc during the planting season in spring, Ewald says the second harvest season this fall has gone much better. Last year the cooperative had to deal with locusts and extreme heat. Shade netting was then used for the greenhouses, which helped. These have had to be partly renewed this year because of the storm damage and made more resistant with stone foundations and wooden constructions. There are also plans to build a garden wall and plant windbreaks to provide additional help.  

German Shelter Now Director Udo Stolte says he's impressed by the women's persistence: “It's really admirable, they've had everything thrown at them but they're still standing and have refused to give up.” Shelter Now hopes to help by providing the women with a more stable greenhouse, more robust sheeting and more durable shade netting – all donations gratefully received! We need around 1900 US dollars for a greenhouse. A plastic sheet costs around 385 US dollars.  

Braunschweig, Germany, 7 November 2012

About Shelter Now

Shelter Now is an international relief organisation with its co-ordination office in Germany. Since 1983 registered and working in Pakistan, and since 1988 in Afghanistan. Shelter Now finances its projects mainly by private donations. The efficiant and project-focussed use of funds is certified by the German Central Insitute for Social Issues and has received the Seal of Approval.


In Germany:

Shelter Now Germany e.V., Waisenhausdamm 4, 38100 Braunschweig, Phone: +49 531 885395-7, Fax: +49 531 885395-9,,

In UK:

The King's Centre, Wellesley Street, King's Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 1QD

Phone: +44-15 53-76 63 33
E-Mail: p.randerson@(--remove this spamprotection--) 



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