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Agribusiness Development Teams (ADT) in Afghanistan Handbook

Handbook 10-10
November 2009

CALL Handbook 10-10: Agribusiness Development Teams (ADT) in Afghanistan Handbook

Unity of Effort

Chapter 2

"Agriculture is the dominant factor in the Afghan economy, in food security, in livelihoods, sustainable resources, and national security. Agriculture will determine whether Afghanistan will succeed or fail."

-Mohammad Asif Rahimi, Afghan Minister of
Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL)


Agribusiness development team (ADT) leaders realized their success depended on governmental and nongovernmental partners. Fortunately, the U.S. government, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IROA), the governments of other countries, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) already had working programs throughout Afghanistan, but not necessarily in the areas where IROA control and influence was weak to nonexistent. Figure 2-1 shows key government and nongovernment partners.


Graphic showing Government and nongovernment actors
Figure 2-1. Government and nongovernment actors


U.S. Agriculture Assistance Strategy for Afghanistan

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. agriculture strategy for Afghanistan mobilizes support for the Afghan government, MAIL, and the private sector to revitalize Afghanistan's agriculture economy and increase income and jobs. Shared objectives of MAIL and the U.S. government (USDA, U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID], ADTs, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) within the context of national agriculture development framework include the following:

  • Goal 1: Increase agriculture sector jobs and income.
    • Increase agriculture productivity by increasing farmers' access to inputs and effective extension services.
    • Invigorate agribusiness by increasing linkages between farmers, markets, credit, and trade corridors.
    • Rehabilitate watersheds and improve irrigation infrastructure.

  • Goal 2: Increase Afghans' confidence in their government.
    • Increase MAIL's capacity to deliver services and promote the private sector and farmer associations through direct budget and technical assistance.
    • Promote Afghan agricultural commodities via intranational and international commerce.

  • Guiding principles:
    • The Afghan government leads.
    • Agriculture assistance will have a strong focus on counterinsurgency objectives and investment in sustainable agriculture growth throughout Afghanistan.
    • Government involvement in markets should focus on regulation and enabling the private sector.
    • Projects should be linked to key value chains where possible and to communities, with technical guidance from provincial agriculture working groups.

Governmental and Nongovernmental Partners

The U.S. government is committed to the long-term success of Afghanistan and recognizes the impact agriculture has on stabilizing the economy, improving security, and building the Afghan government's capacity to provide services to its citizens. As a result, agencies such as Department of State (DOS), USDA, USAID, and Department of Defense (DOD) are surging people and funds earmarked specifically for agriculture assistance and development into Afghanistan. This collaborative "interagency" effort to supply technical expertise, money, and mentorship will have a positive impact on the Afghan agriculture economy and ensure all agencies' efforts are nested within an overarching strategic plan.


According to the USDA's Foreign Agriculture Service Web site, USDA is providing technical assistance for the reconstruction of Afghanistan's agricultural sector. USDA works in partnership with the DOS, USAID, the U.S. military, and the Afghan government as well as other organizations. Key USDA contributions include the following:

  • The USDA has agricultural experts serving in Afghanistan plus more in Pakistan who routinely assist the Afghanistan/USDA efforts.
  • The USDA has a representative serving in Kabul as its liaison for the U.S.-led provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs).
  • The United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan established three working groups-one each on food security, trade corridors, and water management.
  • USDA technical assistance has helped establish the Afghan Conservation Corps, which has planted over five million trees, constructed agriculture extension centers in over half of Afghanistan's provinces, trained key Afghan agriculture officials, and established a national system to control animal diseases.
  • The USDA provides ADT access to its labs including soil, water, and feed testing.


USAID is the U.S. government organization responsible for most nonmilitary foreign aid. An independent federal agency, it receives overall foreign policy guidance from the U.S. Secretary of State and seeks to extend a helping hand to those people overseas struggling to make a better life, recovering from a disaster, or striving to live in a free and democratic country. USAID supports agricultural economic development in Afghanistan by:

  • Training farmers in modern farming, storage, and marketing methods as well as modern animal husbandry and livestock management techniques.
  • Building roads and investing in power-generation and expansion programs.
  • Constructing and rehabilitating wells; improving irrigation.
  • Sponsoring programs to improve the health of people, livestock, and crops.
  • Distributing high-quality seeds and fertilizers.


DOD has a history of either taking the lead in assisting host-nation farmers establish and/or restore their agribusiness economy or facilitating the efforts of other governmental and nongovernmental entities performing this vital role. It initiated the PRT and ADT programs in Afghanistan.


PRTs were initiated in Afghanistan in late 2002 by the DOD to assist the Afghan government legitimize itself with the Afghan people and to provide support and assistance to the Afghans as they struggle to reconstruct their homes, communities, and provinces. PRTs, which consist of military officers, diplomats, and reconstruction subject matter experts, are the means for getting U.S. government and other international assistance to the Afghans. PRTs work to:

  • Improve security.
  • Extend the reach of the Afghan government.
  • Facilitate reconstruction in priority provinces.
  • Implement projects to improve stability.


ADTs consist of farmers and agribusiness subject matter experts who are partnered with their home states' land grant universities, agriculture extension agents, and Afghan colleges and universities as a reach-back resource for the latest in farming technology and practices to assist the Afghan farmers. ADTs are involved in the following areas:

  • Animal husbandry
  • Horticulture
  • Irrigation
  • Storage and distribution
  • Agribusiness education


The IROA is an active participant with the other partners in the agricultural assistance strategy development and implementation through its MAIL; the provincial Directors of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (DAIL); and appointed and elected provincial government officials.


The vision of MAIL is to restore Afghanistan's licit agricultural economy by increasing production and productivity, managing natural resources, improving physical infrastructure, and developing markets. The top five projects from MAIL's mid- and long-term objectives are:

  • Wheat seed purchase and distribution prior to the fall 2009 planting (U.S. $32.4 million [M] for 2009).
  • Land lease reform, helping farmers lease unused government land quickly and fairly-bringing rent to government and more productivity for farmers (U.S. $3M, 3 years).
  • Accessible credit for farmers to borrow money legally and efficiently (U.S. $2.3M, 3 years).
  • Change management and internal reforms to make MAIL work better and faster (U.S. $3.5M, 1 year of 3 years total).
  • Comprehensive agriculture and rural development facility-a new, joint MAIL and Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development project to identify gaps in development and then find partners to fill the gaps.


Graphic showing Afghan government's road map to development of the agribusiness portion of the nation's economy
Figure 2-2. Afghan government's road map to development
of the agribusiness portion of the nation's economy


MAIL maintains an official Web site accessible at "" that provides extensive information regarding agribusiness in Afghanistan.


This is either an appointed or elected provincial representative to the MAIL. DAILs approve the provincial development plan (PDP), which is a compilation of local input. The PDP identifies priority projects required to improve overall provincial agribusiness.


NGOs are legally constituted organizations created by private organizations or people with no participation or representation of any government. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its nongovernmental status insofar as it excludes government representatives from membership in the organization.

Land grant universities

The United States has many land grant universities and colleges authorized by the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 to focus on agriculture and military tactics. Notable examples include Auburn University, Colorado State University, Iowa State University, Purdue University, Kansas State University, University of Nebraska, and Clemson University. They continue to study and teach agriculture.

ADTs are partnering with their respective state's land grant universities for the development and execution of the agriculture training portion of their premobilization training. The partnership continues throughout the deployment as a reach-back reference and as technical support for the ADT.

Afghan colleges and universities

Afghanistan has colleges and universities that include agriculture-related courses within their areas of studies. These schools, such as Nangarhar University in Jalalabad, are actively participating in the agricultural economic development and training programs. Nangarhar University includes in its courses agricultural engineering, chemical engineering, environmental engineering, agriculture, forestry, botany, biology, biochemistry, food science, zoology, and veterinary science.

Farm bureaus

Farm bureau offices in the states providing ADTs are actively participating in the agriculture-specific premobilization training. The offices provide guidance on agribusiness subject matter expert staffing of their state's ADTs, what is needed to prepare the agriculture business specialists to work with Afghan farmers, and a reach-back capability for the deployed ADT to obtain information on how to further its efforts to assist development of the Afghan agribusiness economy.

Subsistence farmers

The farm economy in Afghanistan, as in other parts of the world, includes farmers who produce just enough to feed their families, with little to none to sell to others. These individuals lack the financial capacity to take risks that may have severe impacts on their food supply. Many of these individuals do not even own the land on which they live or grow their food. Development of infrastructure, water resources, farming education, improved seeds and fertilizers, large animal management, and markets can help build their capacity and enable them to better provide for their needs.

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