Agriculture is fundamental and the main source of income in Afghanistan; the country usually produces most of the food to meet the basic needs of the population, while a small surplus is used for export. 70-80% of the population works in this sector.
The main crops are wheat, corn, rice, barley, vegetables, various types of nuts. The largest industrial crops are those of castor beans, blonde (used for red dyes), Asafoetida (a medicinal resin), tobacco, cotton and beet, cotton and opium.
The breeding of sheep, the most important livestock industry, usually gives rise to large quantities of meat, fat and wool for domestic consumption, and wool and skins for export; in 1999 there were 14,300,000 sheep. The livestock hut also includes a significant number of camels, horses, donkeys, cows, goats and poultry.
As mentioned earlier, that Afghanistan depends on agriculture, 61% of the population works cultivating cereals, nuts, fruit trees and cotton. But 30 years of war have not only left their mark on the Afghan population, but also on the country’s biodiversity, and this has caused a loss of important traditional agricultural knowledge that was passed down from generation to generation, according to Scanlon.
Another important element that was lost during the war years was the country’s ancestral irrigation system, known as “Karez”. This system transported water from mountainous areas by underground routes, thus avoiding evaporation in the arid Afghan climate, and was traditionally maintained at the village level. Today, only a quarter of the total structure still works. However, the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock plans to rebuild the rest, instead of opting for other irrigation methods.
As we know the majority of the population is engaged in agriculture and livestock. The biggest problems in the labor field are widespread unemployment and the lack of skilled workers and public officials.
Agriculture is carried out mostly in the northern plains. There are also important flocks of sheep and carpet crafts. It also has large reserves of natural gas and a textile and food industry in incipient development.
Today, international and national NGOs, universities and the Afghan government work together to recover knowledge lost through programs and cultivation of endemic plants in Afghanistan.
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