IMPACT OF THE SOVIET OCCUPATION ON AFGHANISTAN'S AGRICULTURE

Created: 3/6/1981

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Impact of

Ibe Soikt Occupation oa Afghanistan's AKricullore (u)

JudgpKiitt

lo some reports, ihe presence of Soviet troops inppears to have had little overall impact oo Afghanaarrity. Indeed, in large part because of generallyeliercd lo have been relatively good, certainlyibe poor

observed disrapucus lo the usual fanning activities were anof miUtary actions rathereliberate attempt,dence

to suggest that the Soviets arecoKbed<&rlEtAui:ythe Afghan insurgents, or that Aversion ofmanpourer toignificant impact on agriculturaJ .

While both rural and urban food needs were generally metome cities experienced periodic and at tunes severe shortages of some basic commodities-Such shortages, however, resulted mainly from ihe9 crop and from food distribution problems caused by Ibe insargents rather than from any deliberate Soviet eOruption of normal agricul'.ural activities.

Agriculture remains vulnerable to deliberate Soviet efforts to limit the activity of the insurgents by denying them food supplies. Any such efforts would, however, likely be unsuccessful because of the nature ofagriculture and the insurgents' close tics with the rural population.To starve the'insurgents would in effect mean starving out much of the general population. As yet there is no indication that the USSR iolends to pursueourse. On the contrary, the Soviets are taking measures to bolster agriculturalfertilizer, wheat and cotton seeds, agricultural machinery, and technical advisers to Afghanistan.ajor change in Soviet policy, then, weal her conditions and the availability of agriculturalwill be the prirrary factors determining the size of1 harvest

impact of

occapalioa on afgtuautiavs asriculture (u|

I he. Soviet invasion of Afghanistanhere have been periodic rcjoruirooos itelv dattoying cropsidespread basis in anlo denyihe insurgents and to provide

. laas report pcesesu loe resortsmat anaiyvsae4grosnd of trarliliotial Afghan af-tculluraj practices and riam-na0 food supply liiuatM:

fghanistan The Seiiinz- Mmi ofcountry of mountains, desert, andunsuitable for an-riculture. Steep mounuins and narrow, deeply incised valleys Abourri and large ireas of the country are without aprxec;abe soil cover. weaihored rocksmart of the Surface Sods arc poorly itnacivred. alkaline high in calcium, aod tow ia ca^anie nutter, nitrogen, and phe-prnxoul The tnore productive soils are found only in ihe valleys and basins. Less thanercent of the total lantfaica.illion heciaret. it classified as arable. Becautcnennge ofarge number of fields are left fallow each year, and

onlyillion hectares are cultivated annually.

;

TV arid continental cunaate ofby hot. dry wmrnersd often harshand wide diurnal floctualions inmajor agncaliural constraint. Agriculture dcpcndsthca*ily on irrigation from the few pc.-mancTitiy flowing rivers, snow and ice melt, and underground water retervei. In the late summer,wner comes mainly from melling glaciers and permanent snow fiehftin the mountains, (u)

rVecipitaiion variet considerably from year [oyear and -jih caevaiBOtt: in meat areas of theeither adeoulte nor retabte enough io sappers etientrve

dryland rarminE. Most of it falls dating the colder months of December through April, themount In March.eters prccipitaiioo ii mostly in the form of snow. High summer rales of evaporation are intensified by itrong persistenthich blow daily from June through

litajcd-

The central mountain range, the Hindu Kasa.covert nearly twcMkuids of the country and dindes the rsortav cn slopes and plains from the southeri iesens and plateaus. Within these rcgioniariay ofan iviiiea=subilsiencc 'hillside farming in the mountains, dryland farming in the, north and jriir jr>eratjgntir>jhc.val|evl andjyjaiai, -'.

Role of Atriealmr* in ihettonomy. Agricullure is dominant in Afghanistan's economy, employing roughly three cui/icrs of the worbag poemlation and accounting for more thanercent of the gross domestic product, ll is largelyubsistence nature. Off-farm inputs are irtsignificast: link: use is made of chemical fertilizer or pesticides, and farmingarc nonmcchani/ed. with men and draft animals providing the bask power needs, (u)

The agricultural sexior can fill moil of the country', food reauirementi ina year with nc* mat precaution -Wheat, however, is imported every year to supplement lupty&c* for the military, eivil Servants, and public in ttnutWns. The amoani imported depeodiiheons durirtg ihend rose to ant: (

Afghanistan's agricultural trade balance during most ofasurpiut. Agriculturaland nuts. Karakul lhcepskins. raw cotton, andfor the major share of icxal csport earnings. In addition torade, an unknown quantity of agricultural products ra smuggled icrouorders, particularly live sheep and sk.nt .nto

In exchange for these peodtactt 1tas naturalimports capital goods, oil. ref ned"healR tndiimaaily mthe Soviet

Unwa iccounled lor approximately hi perceni of Afghanistan's toul fcrrigo trade, up from thet0-perctni share iienge duringrge portion of ihe remainderconducicd with Eail European counliiet

The balk of foreignnoli ace provided to0 has beta directed inward ihe development of water resourceexpansion andof irrigation and flood control systems, andcoiouuction of hydroelectric power facilities- Ihe meet catensivehas occurred itoog the Helnund River and its tribtiUry the Arghandab. the Qondu River and iu tnbuiary the Khanabad. and the Kabul River in the area of Jaialkot in Nangarhar Province- The primary purposes of these protects have been to increase production of crops for "port andupport small textile and food preceaaing indtiti nes The main contributor* of financial and technical aid have been the Soviet Union and the Unitedollo-ed by.the WorldestChina. (ir|

surewost farms in Afghanistan are very small.partly becauseof theiradiiionof dividing land among sons and partlymall number of landownersisc-occniooaiely Urge tha re of the toul cultivated am. Abouterceni ofillion farm famdies own lessectare, and abouterceni own lessectares. Thefrom such small holdings rarely exceeds ihe needs of

cnttom under one roof-be sold for ibeeaOiuy tea, sugar, kerosene.

shoes. andctoth.(u| - .

constat

More thanercent of theultivated area is in the hands of large Uodowoert aumbcriagerceni or so pf all farmers. These Urge holdings are worked by hired Ubor. lenam farmers, or sharecroppers, often kinsmen of the landlord.the large farms sometimes produce asurplus, most of theemented on the farm or loaned to the tenants in return for future considerations, in an Afghan form of indenture. In

addition to Land in individual ownership, somedd by clans, tribal groups,amllicssharing right* lowater.amjnabjnd loots.tu

The Afghan Govemmem has long attempted to break up Urgegs and reduce the influence of the kinship system. All the attempts, including the much publicijed land reform program announcedS and droppedave been uiuuccesiful forihe same reason: ihe government hat been un-abk to replace the traditional system ofbetween tenants and Undo-ncrs. Promised government loans and deliveries of seed and draft -animals have been slow in coming or have neverlerUIUed-Compoundingifficulties in instituting Und reform are the Uck of precise farm boundaries- the absence of Und records.^he conti.Tj.il "controversies over irrigationrecipients' fear of reprisal for infringing uponhip tights. Although tome land has beenit taually has been poor in duality, anddequate support from the gencramem most fanners have eventually abandoned iheir new holdings, 0f

Crops. Reliable crop production statistics are nota dec uate access to rural areas, the traditional aniagceusrn of rural Afghans toward central author ,iy. the propensity of the Afghan farmer to lie about bit yields, and ihe cuttomary bartering or smuggling ofportion of Ihe grain crop make i( virtually imfaasaible for any Afghan government to collect accurate data on crop produelioo. According to official Afghan data, however, total annual grain productionillion tons6f which whealillion tons. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates thai9 droavghl and the government's haphazard attempt* at land re-dtstnbutionresulted ingrain production, with wheat output falling byhnnerceni (seeII)

Grata crops Such at wheat, rice, barley, and corn aeootsn' fee nearlyerceni of live tenal area cropped. Frails and vegetables occupyercent, and ir.duiirial crops-cotton, sugar be cu. and oilseeds, as well as poppies, make up the remainder. With tbc ciception of tomeheat, barley, sesame, and linseed. all of ihe crops are irrigued. 4

Table .

i6H

Uoa

Afghanistan; Production of Major

Avrnjc

limirta ry

a

450 -

40*

Ml

400

MM

Corn

Rice

S'Jtjrbnii

'I 7J

'5

400

u Ola

Wheat is ibe staple crop in ibe Afghan diei. Grownarley and corn, growivin many paruof ihecouniry,_

nearly all regions of Afghanistan, it accounts for of perceni of total cropland andoerceni of iota1 grain prodociion. More lhan half of the wheat area it irrigated, but even irrigated wheat relies heavily upon natural rainfall. Irrigated wheal is sown from late October to mid-November and harvested in June and July. FromS^ercent of the previous year's

occupy less lhaoerceni of ihe loial cropbarley is harvested at ihe end of May.-reeks before the wheal harvestighland variety is plantedummer crop. Corn is harvested inSeptember in northern Afghanistan and inor November farther south. In areas wherearea is left fallow each year. Noninigaied number of

wheat, sown in the spring and harvested in ihe fall of Valley, corn is plantedaublc cropping system the same year, is grown primarily in oonbern Afghani- following the winicr -heal harvest. fu) sian. Typically, onlyerceni of ihe wheat prodiiced

comes from noftiAgated lands. Depending onimporianlcrops include:.-

moisture condilions, sameoerceni of ihe(grapes, pomegranates, apricots,left fallow,grown in most irrigated areas.

Vegetables, grown primarili on small plots andis the second most important grain infamily needs and local markets.

Afghanistan diet, accounting foraboutCotton, grown commercbUy in four mainerain output. It is grown principally in Ihe north Qonduz and Baghlan in ihe northeast.ihe wwnscfBaghlanandQonduz. Other major Sharif and Balkh in the north. Herat in iheareas ire in Hcrai and Nangarhar Prov- wesi. and Laskar Gah in the(u)

be*M. grown almoa exclusively in the liagM ipart cities. esj>e^

area; ihe location ofnearest villagebazaar serves as ihe collecting

(primarily linseed and sesame) grown under point for surplus grain, andealthyirrigated and rain-fed conditions in many parts acts as the bazaar;roduce js movedthe country, local bazaar by animal to theclosest road from

where it is truckedentral markets.

of domestic agricultural produce is handled by both public agencies (sugar beets and cot too) and private traders (the bulk of the cereals, livestock prod-ijcu, fruits, andn the urban areas food-

Linstock Production. Livestock productionaccounts for approximatelyercentgross domestic product and contributes aboutof the country's export earnings. Almost allexport earnings arc attributable to thecelts, carpets, wool, skins, andare marketed to Ibe general publicIn addition^ mutton accounts for Ihe majorthe many small shcos in ihe local bazaar.red meat consumption, and sheep's milk is abazaar merchants purchase commodities frompart of ihe diet for many families, [uwho have collected and transported agricultural the couniryside to theciiy. Inlurtagc of feed is the major constraint toGovernment, through beta domesticof animal products. Grain is seldom fedImports, normally provides food to public ins titand the area sown lo fodder crops isand distributes wheat flour to civil servants-aNatural pasture and crop residues are of feed.esult, the Bvestoci: industry is

particularly vulnerable todraught, with livestockof (he Sovietlories drawn down heavily".

every rural family owns some livestock toincome and food supplies. Fewer than one-third of tbese families, however, rely upon livestock raising as their sole source of income. Sedentaryuse livestock, primarily bullocks and donkeys, for plowing, threshing, and transportation. Other farmers practice transhumance. driving their small herds of sheep, goats, and cows to summer mountain pastures. Seminoma ds, who practice some farming and own larger herds, are the main producers of Karakul pelts and wool carpets.True*nomads, who probably own the largest number of animals in Afghanistan, depend principally on their animalsivelihood. Migrating long distances between summer and winter homelands, Ihey barter animals and animal products for grain and other.foods and are iKe main itinerant merchants and -principal sources of ready cash, (U)

Distribuliau cf Agricultural Commodities. Ruralarkets are poorly developed in Afghanistan. There is little surplus for sale, or trade, and the vast majority of farmcn and villagers are located great distances by foot from any road,The sparsity of all-weather roads means that most villages are isolated from (he prin-

.mr-jcl of

ceon AfenanislanS agricultural out-

put wis minimal.

In most regions cropping operations look place on schedule. The harvest of the important winter wheal and barley Crops occurred in June and July; the corn harvest began in early September. There appears topo significant change in wot

ii no ayidcnceVto indicateSoviets are impleraenlir.j; Even apolicy in dealing withhere are no signs of Soviet attempts to

aUiam

land and Mfpaa annkHifW enamj. In tin omit at of tin) paperatto uWofemi. and faun

nd lup-ilies. Wi alao lodmaerair -atirfuene* in nwrnal

<i. towini. and hincal-ni lv>

7

prevent timelyscroing and harvesting nor anyof deliberate desirueiion of crcps or livestock. Irrigation systems ind rcMrvoin. viul io cropping

operations and vulnerableisruption, appear lo be

furtctioning normally. AgriailluralprmJHcd virtually under Soviet gun barrels destroyed and some fiefdt ibandoned. Suchion, however, probably occurredery limited scale and was generally confined to those border areas where insurrenieen ihr graiear"

lr.;hcst few ieiunccs where

norcul aCTKaJtiUl. liinty. |MM Oceaeeonda.'yresult of combat and staging operations raiher Ulanattempt io ihlerfere with normalactivil pr. In alrnost every case, oncelefl (be area farming ooerarjewvi rvciimedtmrjtediaielyj Only

mall ac^rnc-nt ol Uie nfgtutiaTan^ailsian border in Pallia Province, where iuorgcni crouingi have inj to more aciivt miliury operatic ns. wasiarnifjean! area of abosdaned apScaltural land

_ used, the area lost was minimal. No lire zones (cleared pericneten several burred meters wide) surrounding mililary canes have beta observed. Even rniliury carnal located in orchards mdlefl most trees and vmes urdiKurbedof miliury vehicles nol direcily engaged io combat ciperalions generally was ccmfioed io reads.

In Ihe fall0 normal pierttiatiorrj werefor the wtnler grains, which will be

have taken place as usual. There is no evidence to indicate that largo areas of cropland were leftbecauicof drexi milium afij-rjjvrirjfcry^ age of farm labor

-W*

not beenIvOCCOca-eaflfl policy on abasis, this is not to la/ there have been no attempts made to deny Insurgents access to foodUndoubtedly some crops and livestock have been

Axncalt-jnJ Perte^-nary. in

0 Crura CVvav

ajtino^eatexypna-

apal agricultural areas soowi ircr crop vigor levels were generally cacdleni throughout the seaiOof

' ' Yields of winter grains, warn nrn-rnany ac^cfPTreriaouiercent of the yearly grain crop, were probably al least averagr^JjjrJsjngjn this iaslance an indicator of good yields.'

lource of irrigation water, for Ihe dry spring andmonths. Normalamuaowfan and rainfall in the early spring further increased soil rncav ture levels, lo addiiion, late ipongrty somraer Urnperalures, slightly cooler than normal, limited rnoisinre losses from evaporation and fostered the growth of Ihe grainc.

There is some uncertainty regarding the size of the area harvtaicd. If it was smaller than usual, total outpul might have been below average despite good

n.e Chaii

rune Minliiira-revincal Mroi ofBitira^'aivia-irMn

ruccat nan. rVoSuoDa at, arapea.ku . ltlwu TU etanaednd waar Meu -erraa> mm. ivicnditiMhen ralaaM wind bead arfnln ml) andatl.nrd or uaglcd amimcul! co tiarvcn. lleenrratlr eeeun diiriti ibe Iner luges ofene

de-ilia-nta.-aaea the grains in Hllni aadled down with

malure"Ben Ranta> oou caxeiallr luh:

yfclttt

| ^

f'lTTJP perccDtagTof lieTiii may not navei last year because of direct military ktenentaoai orshoelace of farmbotonth caminaiiori

of Af gbanistaaro substantiate theseert wai do appreciableKU IUe (luringrop season. The fewofficial report* have beenurthermore,ues-

eMinuus Wacreage

i><aeFAO. unluancdToalUSDAcuimMn.nritei-brio*

<msa i] I'M.Bit

's.niifu reporud taaiatal oftUua

lareaaa n> Maaot tanoVa*ba fccctara vmlam ofnOau ifaauarnu fcaj IM

italiai oeeurtsd aWr olar raviafat* irTf.proaaOaaa la ItSC wald

ad San bacnaiTaruaL If..the tall

ie beaag ritaa-id fwC.

productionIvi

tionable whether Afghan officials in Kabul areosition to make accurate sutctneaucu niry wide acr.CaJlural iituatioa

.

AriiiUi-itify of FriSupptif Despite the numerous account) in the Western press of food shortage'-rural Af*hariisian-the oood^onnionditiotij'

cut rural toon needs' were generallyene areas where heavy ftgaliEj dan-aged scene crops, the effectsrc^ shonfaJl wtxld likely be less proriotiaced than in tbe urban areas. In poor crop years farmers oflcnthangrain and are able to substitute other grains for wheat, or in-crease ihe amount otfruit. null, and vegetables In their diet'

While fund supplies appeared for the mo! pari to have been adequate in most urban areaseports indicate that there were periodic and at lime* severe

shortages of man. basic commoditiesduring the first half of the jeai. particularly in the capital city of Ka but. Such shoruges. however, are believed to haveesult of the Wt cropihorifallor Insurgent

ratha iban of Iff doeci Soviet dnrvptioei of agricultural activities. (The disrapiion of normallines by the iruurgenu wis not limited toproducts, many nonfoodire-wood.also prevented from reaching theood supplies Improved noticeably ai theof0 crops, particularly winter wheat, began in Jone and July. rViees of wheat, flour, aad focal rice, up greatly during the first half or the year, declined in Asgust in Kabul as the new crop* began to appear in tit centra! market

To supplement food supplies. Afghanistan is believed to haveons of wheatnot! of ii supoJied by the Soviet Union. Much of the imported grain was probably for use in the Kabul area by Afghan civil servants and military forees.

ofc- _ .

_he USSR has tot utLH lIUIlL^U'J'l^cneqTfftiiToiicyidespread

basis.

riculturalfertilirer. improvedof wheat and cotton seed, agricultural machinery, and technical advisers to Afghanistan

Although Afghan agriculture remains vulnerable io Soviet miliurydestruction of crops,irrigation systems, and the prevention of normal croppingis roost unlikely thai the USSR will change course andolicy ofdetraction. Such an objeclive wouldncriumenul effort by the Soviets and. io the crd. would probably be self-defeatinc.ountry where overercent of Ihe population is rural and where the food duttribuiiouo dcceniral^ed. limiting insurgent activity by cutting off food supplies would be virtually impossible. To police fully ihe numerous imall fields sealiered throughout ihe rruwouiiwuswould require tremendous erpendilures of lime

and manpower. Because of in* insurgents' tics to the general rural populaiion. any effective large-scale Soviet attempt to starve out the iruuigents would sum much of Afghan man's rural population."

Any impact of the Sovici invasion on Afghanistan's agriculture is more likely lo be the resulthortage of farm latex caused by the outflow of refugees than the result of deliberate Soviet attempts to limitoutput. Afghanistan's agricultural economy ia highly labor intensive and therefore vulnerable to shortages of farm Ubor. The irsJitionaliy labor-iinen-sive farming methods and double cropping praciices normally result In seasonal shortages or agricultural Ubor ai planting time in the spring, at the lit-te of the winter gram harvest in mid-July, and aeain In ihe fall when the summer crops arc harvested and the. field* -arc prepared for thetint* grains.!

'however, to suggarTSaT ivutsrtniui uuiipuwcr Iff the insurgency at ihe exodus of anillion refugees to Pakistan and [ran has yetajor impact on agriculturalThis may bexaplained by reports thai many rerugees have filtered back across the borders and rebels have come down from the hills io plant and harvest their crops. Sbotirfl the outflow of refugees from rural areas continueages bervsme more extensive?

lowever. farm labor prooiems could occame airiTrtporiant constrain! on Afa-Mniiun's1

ajor change in Soviet policy and in the availability of agiteuhura! labor, weather conditions will be the most important factor determining1

ilafwuuur -heal

ectares, ecunriartd Ula mi-HaTera*

ofrouaOty IJOnsilliiinheeuna.|ol

mm

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