College of Agriculture & Natural Resources

Afghanistan & Pakistan


Improving the Role of Women in Agriculture and Family Food Security in Afghanistan

Four University of Maryland Extension agents traveled to Afghanistan in July 2012, to train Afghan female extension agents on  best practices in urban farming, nutrition and selling surplus food.

The July workshop was part of a three year project, funded by USDA.  Future workshops will be held two  to three times a year. 

Prof. James Hanson, the project leader, said the "project aims to specifically serve vulnerable women—those who have been abandoned, divorced or widowed—living in the poorest sections of Kabul. The goal is to increase access to healthy food, improve the quantity and quality of healthy food, and to increase the income from the sale of home-grown food. While his intent was for the project to be entirely managed by women, Hanson knew the safety concerns in Afghanistan might make assembling a team a challenge. “I wasn’t actively recruiting people for this,” he said. “Anyone who expressed an interest, I told them to think about it for a while and then get back to me.”  Read more about this exciting project, titled Empowering Women in the War Zone.


Strengthening Extension Skills of Young Professionals in Afghanistan and Pakistan

AGNR has partnered with several U.S. universities to train Afghan and Pakistani Extension professionals in improving their agricultural knowledge and their outreach to farmers.

USDA has provided funding for workshops by the five universities -- University of California at Davis, University of Maryland, Purdue University, Iowa State University, and Washington State University.  The University of Agriculture, Faisalbad, and Nangarhar University have scheduled a series of workshops in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to teach trainees. 

Strengthen the extension and delivery systems of Afghanistan and Pakistan to better meet the needs of farmers and the rural poor.


  1. Strengthen technical skills in priority areas within a context for extension training.
  2. Provide an extension framework for subsequent implementation
  3. Highlight the need for information source-extension linkages

All of the workshops will focus on improving agricultural knowledge, such as diagnosing pest problems, cultivation and increasing food production, and improving Extension outreach skills.

Workshop 1: University of Agriculture, Faisalbad, Pakistan

The first workshop was held in June 2011 in Pakistan.  Trainees learned about:

  • Needs assessment for Crop Improvement
  • Conducting Evaluations
  • Validating Extension Information
  • Elements of a Successful and Rewarding Extension Program 
  • Orchard Management  
  • Post-harvest Physiology and Management of Fruit and Vegetable Crops  
  • The Art and Science of Diagnosing Plant Problems
  • Eutrophication
  • Designing a Crop Rotation Plan with Farmers

The trainers also took a field trip to an agricultural station and a water buffalo dairy farm.

Workshop 2: Nangarhar University, Afghanistan

Workshop 2 was held in November 2011, with over 30 Afghan and Pakistani trainees attending.  They  discussed issues that farmers face and how to address them, such as obtaining improved seeds, the high cost of fertilizer and lack of irrigation.  In one exercise, the trainees developed Extension materials that they can later use, such as producing a factsheet on growing wheat.



Afghan Extension trainees with U.S. Extension educators, at the second workshop, held in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan.



They also learned about animal and pest management.  At right, Dave Myers (UMD-AGNR) talks about vegetable production technology with some trainees.



This brochure on soybeans was produced by a team of workshop trainees.  The trainees will provide brochures like these to their farm clients, which explain best practices and conditions for growing crops.

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