FARAH CITY, Afghanistan – The head of the Farah Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Abdul Manan Matin, announced the completion of a demonstration greenhouse project at a ceremony at his facilities in Farah City here, Jan. 23. The event was attended by Farah Deputy Governor Mohammed Yunis Rasooli, leadership from Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, members of Matin’s staff and Farahi farmers. Matin’s efforts are intended to connect Farahi farmers with new and innovative techniques to improve crop yields and profit margins. The greenhouse project is a joint venture between Matin, PRT Farah, and USDA field program officer Chris Koym, who brought the idea to the table that led to the greenhouse’s opening.
“I want this facility to be like a home for Farahi farmers,” said Matin. “This is a place where farmers can come to learn new techniques that will help them to make more money and support their families.”
Matin, who has a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Herat University, is working to make a difference in the way that Farah does agriculture, in large part due to his education, work experience with NGO’s and capacity building initiatives. He has worked in development with USAID for the past few years, and was most recently the local director of the RAMP UP program in Farah. In his new role at the directorate, Matin values the opportunity to improve the lives of the people of Farah, not only through working with coalition partners, but also by working closely with the Farah Farmer’s Cooperative Union and other NGO’s to pool and direct resources where they are needed.
“This is a great step forward in the greenhouse project,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Louis McCray, the PRT’s commanding officer. “There is still work to be done by building the capacity of Farahi farmers by teaching them new techniques, but this presents great opportunities for the province. A house is not a home; it’s the family inside it that matters.”
Matin is looking forward to the opportunity to bring new resources, and ultimately opportunities for agribusiness development to Farahi farmers.
“It is very, very important that we use the resources available to us in Farah to help better the lives of Farahis. This includes connecting students at the agriculture school across the street to my facilities so students have opportunities for hands on learning.”
Recently, Matin’s name was included in a radio interview with the Farah provincial governor’s spokesman, Abdul Rahman Zhwandai who was discussing examples of good leaders in Farah. Zhwandai said that Matin is doing a great job in his position, and is the type of youthful leader that the governor wants in Farahi government. Not long ago, the directorate was ranked at the bottom of all line directors in the province. Since coming in as director, Matin has lifted his directorate to first place amongst his peers according to a recent inspection of all directorates by the provincial governor’s staff.
Greenhouses as an alternative method of farming were recently highlighted in a civil-society magazine, Hamagan, in Farah. The article highlighted the benefits to local farmers including a longer growing season and an increase in overall profits for farmers, mitigating the need to grow opium to add to farmers’ bottom lines.
The immediate plan for the greenhouse at Matin’s location is to demonstrate production methods and use it as a training tool so that local farmers have an opportunity to replicate the results at their own facilities. Additionally, the PRT civil affairs team will work with Matin to institute further training opportunities for local farmers. With further coordination between the DAIL, Director of Education and local universities, Farah can leverage education and training resources to create opportunities for agribusiness development within the province.
The demonstration greenhouse in Farah is also an example for the DAIL extension agents in Farah’s 10 other districts to use as a way to share knowledge and experience with local farmers - knowledge that farmers can use to build their own greenhouses and implement the skills and techniques learned at the district centers and DAIL’s office to support their businesses and families.
Though access to inexpensive electricity remains a limiting factor for the people and farmers of Farah, it is clear that line directors like Matin are taking practical and necessary steps to work for the benefit of Farahis. Only time will tell if the greenhouses take off and business owners are able to implement the practices into their daily use, but it is another example of a smart, ambitious leader in Farah, willing to make the effort to help the people he serves.
PRT Farah’s mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province, Afghanistan. Their civil-military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). For more information about the PRT follow their page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PRTFRH.