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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Afghan agricultural extension system : impact of the Soviet occupation and prospects for the future Wesa, Tooryalai


The Soviet Union occupied her southern neighbor Afghanistan on Thursday, December 27, 1979. Soon after the occupation, significant impacts were felt on agriculture and other sectors of the economy. Agriculture was affected in many ways from the integrity of irrigation systems to the cultivation of opium poppies. Agricultural extension, as the main department within the Ministry of Agriculture, was severely affected in terms of programs, organization, personnel, budget, methods, relations with farmers, and transfer of improved technologies. This study was designed to assess the impacts of the occupation and identify recommendations for the future development of the system. A survey design was used. Sixty-two Afghans with detailed knowledge about the Soviet occupation and agriculture participated in the study. The survey included 34 mostly open-ended questions, covering three areas: demographic characteristics of respondents, impacts of the occupation, and prospects for the future of the Agricultural Extension System of Afghanistan. The majority of participants were highly educated and lived in North America after departing Afghanistan. The results also showed that during the occupation many participants were assigned to passive positions or lost their jobs. The occupation affected the attitudes of the farmers, reduced the cultivation of agricultural land, destroyed the infrastructure for delivering agricultural services, altered the types of crops grown and reduced the number of people working in agriculture. Millions of landmines remain a serious threat to those who return to farming. Recommendations are made for the Government, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Higher and Vocational Education, Agricultural Extension System, Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), and International Aid Agencies. Agricultural extension rehabilitation should be given high priority to meet the emerging challenges of increasing agricultural production by adopting modern technology, generating suitable marketing channels for surplus agricultural products, providing equal development and working opportunities for Afghan women, protecting natural resources, utilizing professional returnees, and replacing poppy cultivation with regular food crops. Perceptual and structural obstacles may militate against providing proper support for agricultural development in Afghanistan. The overall reconstruction and development of the Afghan Agricultural Extension System is a prerequisite for the future development of the Afghan agriculture sector. Establishing a stable Afghan government and support from the international coalition are essential to rebuilding this important sector of the economy.

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