afghanistanAfghanistan is a landlocked Asian country at a strategic geographical location due to its links to neighboring countries of Central, Western, and Southern Asia. In spite of its vast untapped natural resources, the country is considered one of the least developed in the world. Frequent foreign invasions, civil wars, and armed conflicts spreading over centuries since 350 BC and, especially during the last three decades, have forced millions of Afghans to flee their homeland. Recently, however, a significant number of expatriate Afghans have been noticed returning home with hopes of rebuilding their country after the current war comes to an end. Durable peace, re-habilitation, re-construction and the return of life to normalcy in Afghanistan, but this still remains a dream for many people.

title=Context

Context

Afghanistan’s capital is Kabul. The country is divided into 34 provinces, which are further divided into a total of 398 provincial districts. The districts are sub-divided into cities and villages. Each province has a Provincial Council, an elected body, which is supposedly involved in development affairs for its provinces. The population of Afghanistan in 2011 was estimated as 35.3 million.

Afghanistan has mountains, hills, plains and deserts. As such, its climate is extreme with dry bitter cold winters, very hot summers, snow falls on the higher altitude, and dust storms occur in dry areas. Substantial variation exists in day and night temperatures. Most of the rain falls between October and April. However, the agriculture sector remains very important in building Afghanistan’s economy, in spite of the fact that only 12 percent of its land area is arable and only about half of that is cultivated. The Kunduz Province in the north and Helmand Province in the south constitute the primary agricultural areas. In 2006-07, the share of agriculture in the country’s GDP was 32.6 percent and agriculture generates 70 percent of employment and plays supporting role for the manufacturing and the service sectors.

Most of the farms are very small, as about 69 percent of these farms are below five hectares. Only about 16 percent of the farms have over 10 hectares of arable land, either irrigated or rain-fed and just 6.5 percent of these farms have over 20 hectares, cover about 33 percent of the irrigated and 50 percent of the rain-fed land. Main crops include wheat, maize, barley, sugarcane, and cotton. The important fruit and vegetable crops are pomegranates, apricot, almond, walnut, mulberry and grapes, as well as onion, potato, tomato, watermelon and melon. Water requirements are usually met by rains in spring and melting snow in winter. Animals include cattle, karakul sheep and poultry, which play an important role in enhancing the income of farmers. The development of agriculture suffers from, among some other factors, a lack of proper irrigation, weak extension services, and poor marketing. Putting effective ban on opium cultivation by farmers, who are tempted by the high income from this crop, remains a serious problem for the government.

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

379,100

58.12

7,793,000

11.94

0.23

2009

2009

2009

2009

2009

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)

3.20

2008

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

29.91

115.22

40.04

13.69

2010

2010

2010

2010

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

410

2010

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

18.15

11.14

45.79

24.33

50.57

1979

1979

1979

1979

2010

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

41.38

3.65

2010

2010

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population**

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

   of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

35,320,445

52.71

25,857,571

75.2

53.13

9,059,629

6,046,000

 

66.73

 

32.12

2011

2010

2010

2010

2010

2010

2010

 

2010

 

2010

Sources: The World Bank; *FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,  ; ** http://www.indexmundi.com/facts/afghanistan/

 

 Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (August 2012)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson

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