Kunduz, Sar-e-Pul farmers see livelihoods dry up from drought

By Muhammad Qasem

Farmers using rainfed lands in Kunduz and Sar-e-Pul provinces in northern Afghanistan have been unable to harvest crops because of drought this year. Crops from more than 40,000 of the 50,000 hectares of rainfed land in the provinces could not be harvested this year, according to local officials. [Courtesy of Sultan Muhammad Nabizada]

KUNDUZ -- Farmers cultivating rainfed lands in Kunduz and Sar-e-Pul have been unable to harvest crops this year due to drought, say provincial officials.

Rainfed crops such as wheat and barley in the region are usually cultivated in October and harvested in May.

In Kunduz, the vast majority of rainfed wheat could not be harvested, said Abdul Ghafar Sediqi, acting chief of the provincial Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL).

"About 49,250 hectares of rainfed land was cultivated in Kunduz, but crops on 80% of it died, and farmers in the area have suffered heavy losses," he said. "These lands are located in the centre of the province as well as in Khanabad, Dasht-i-Archi and Qala-e-Zal districts."

This picture taken last October 15 shows a youth plowing dry land in Bala Murghab district, Badghis province. [Hoshang Hashimi/AFP]

This picture taken last October 15 shows a youth plowing dry land in Bala Murghab district, Badghis province. [Hoshang Hashimi/AFP]

"We have shared details of the losses incurred by the farmers with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) and partner NGOs," Sediqi said.

"Hopefully, the farmers will get some assistance and compensation for their losses."

Meanwhile, in Sar-e-Pul province, up to 60% of wheat and barley crops in Suzma Qala, Sancharak and Gosfandi districts also have no yields this year, said Abdul Qader Wahdat, director of the Sar-e-Pul DAIL.

"There was no rainfall at the beginning of the year ... most of the farmers' rainfed crops dried up and died," he said.

"We are trying to help farmers through MAIL and partner NGOs," he added.

Suffering losses

Farmers with rainfed land in Kunduz have seen their livelihoods dry up alongside their crops.

Nazar Mohammad, 36, a farmer in Dasht-e-Abadan, said he had tried to cultivate wheat on more than two hectares of land.

"There was no rainfall in March and April," which killed the crops, he said. "I borrowed money to buy fertiliser, rent tractors and meet other expenses. Now I don't know how to pay back the money."

Drought and other disasters are causing major losses for farmers who work on rainfed lands that can be cultivated only once a year, said Rahman Berdi, 57, another farmer in Dasht-e-Abadan.

"We used to harvest crops this time of the year, but this year there is no harvest since all our crops have dried up," he said.

"Every farmer has suffered between 100,000 and 500,000 AFN [$1,122–$5,608] in losses," he added.

"I planted 3,500kg of wheat seeds on my lands last year, which yielded 14,000kg of wheat," said Abdul Raouf, 41, a farmer in Aliabad district.

"This year, I cultivated 2,800kg of wheat seeds, but not only I did not get any yields, I also owe money for the seeds," he said.

Concerns exacerbated by Ukraine war

"Wheat from Kunduz used to be supplied to neighbouring provinces in the past years, but because of the wheat crop loss this year, the price of wheat may go up," Raouf added.

Concerns are rising that residents of Kunduz will face wheat shortages, he said.

These concerns are amplified by the global wheat crisis triggered by Russia's war on Ukraine.

Russia's navy is continuing to blockade Ukraine in the Black Sea, preventing the breadbasket nation from exporting key food supplies.

Before the Russian invasion, which began February 24, Ukraine exported roughly 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural produce per month through its ports, including 12% of global wheat, 15% of corn and half of its sunflower oil, according to AFP.

The war and its ongoing blockade have largely brought the trade to a halt, with alternative routes by rail and truck unable to tackle the enormous logistical and financial hurdles needed to move so much produce to international markets.

"The government and NGOs working in the agriculture sector should buy wheat from farmers at a higher price and sell it back in the market at a lower price so that food prices don't go up and farmers don't lose money," said Mohammad Rafiq Qarizada, a provincial government employee in Kunduz.

"If this is not done, farmers will suffer losses every year," he said.

Mohammad Hussain Serat, an agriculture specialist in Kunduz, urged international agencies, NGOs and the government to compensate farmers for the losses they incurred this year.

"The volume of wheat crops on rainfed lands is lower this year than it was last year," he said.

"If partner NGOs would like to help to reduce the vulnerability of farmers who engage in rainfed cropping, then they should compensate them for the wheat seeds they used so that these farmers can continue farming next year," he said.

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The global warming crisis seems to be having a direct effect on Afghanistan. Before, it would not have rained, and the water would have receded, but now even fires have started to broke. Ettelaat-e-Roz daily writes that it's been two weeks since a forest fire broke out in Nuristan province and locals say it is impossible to put out the blaze. According to locals, 3 acres of forest have been burnt in the fire. Yesterday, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the Taliban's deputy foreign minister, called on Chinese Charge de Affaires Deng Yanan in Kabul to help extinguish forest fires in Nuristan. According to the report, Taliban officials in Kunar said that a forest fire broke out in the province's Degal area of ​​Chapa Dara district. On the other hand, there have been reports on social media that a forest fire has been raging in the Mashin Naw Bagh area of ​​Dur Baba district of Nangarhar for the past five days due to firing by Pakistani forces, and the fire is spread fast. On the one hand, there will be hunger and unemployment; on the other hand, there will be Taliban rule in the Middle Ages, and there will be such fires. All this makes one hate Afghanistan. Thanks


This writing is disappointing for me. Afghans are facing another scourge after years of war, which is global warming, threatening the lives of people across the country. Of course, this problem is not limited to the western provinces. The situation in the south is times worse than this. The problem of global warming is even more troubling in Afghanistan when there is no transparent approach to protecting the environment in the absence of a legitimate and accountable government.


This is the outcome of 40 years of war and the application of different weapons used by international superpowers in Afghanistan. Additionally, it could also be considered a sign of global warming and environmental crisis. The world is facing a dangerous future which is caused by the World’s major powers with the production of Greenhouse gas as well as the overusage of natural resources which is also harmful to the survival of the earth. Countries with major economic power in the world are always bragging about freedom, protection of human values, and human rights every day, but in reality, they oppress both human beings, the earth, and the nature. The economies of these countries, the development of these countries, and the prosperity in these countries come with the cost of damaging the earth and shading the blood of millions of people.