"Half of its 23.8 million people live below the poverty line and GDP per capita is just US$300. Life expectancy at birth is 44.5 years for men, 44 for women, and many health indicators remain among the worst in the world...the food crisis that began in mid-2006 due to drought conditions has adversely affected an estimated 2.5 million people." Afghanistan, Projected Needs 2007, World Food Programme
“The nutritional situation in Afghanistan is characterised by extremely high prevalence of chronic malnutrition, also referred to as stunting…, high mortality rates among children under five -years-old and widespread occurrence of micronutrient deficiency diseases. World Food Programme (WFP), 2004
The Seeds for Afghanistan project, created in October 2001, partnered with ARO in 2003. Seeds for Afghanistan has collected and distributed more than 800,000 vegetable, herb and flowers seeds to farmers, families, widows, schools, orphan centers and others.
More than five years of drought combined with two and a half decades of war, have devastated the once abundant home gardens, family farms and flowering pathways of Afghanistan. Hundreds of home gardeners, individuals, nurseries and seed companies have contributed seeds as part of this simple, highly successful grassroots effort. Among our donors are Seeds of Change, Botanical Interests, Inc., and Seed Savers.
ARO constructed a greenhouse, or “gulkhana,” at its Technical Education Center (TEC) in Kabul to reintroduce techniques of home gardening to students. The greenhouse offers a unique and practical educational opportunity, teaching students to grow and preserve food, while encouraging a healthy diet of fresh foods. The beauty of the greenhouse also offers a welcome relief to those who have witnessed the ongoing destruction of war.
Future plans of Seeds for Afghanistan include additional greenhouses, and instruction in organic gardening, composting and Permaculture techniques. Small-scale fresh food production can help create sustainable communities.
Financial contributions to Seeds for Afghanistan can be endorsed to:
Afghanistan Relief Organization
P.O. Box 866
Cypress, CA 90630 USA
Please include “Seeds for Afghanistan” on the subject line of your check.
Financial donations will be used for the TEC greenhouse, gardening equipment available for purchase in the region (e.g. spades, wheelbarrows, hand tools and barrels for rain and composting.
Donations of seeds can be mailed or delivered to:
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Important Seed Donor Information:
Please make sure seeds can grow successfully in “Zone 4” climate areas—arid to semi arid—with cold winters and hot summers.
In light of Afghanistan’s significant environmental devastation, it is preferable to send non-GMO and organic seeds whenever possible. Please note that mercury-coated seeds are especially hazardous, if, during times of famine, people are forced to eat their seed stock.
The Afghan diet is primarily wheat, fruits, nuts and meat. Popular vegetables include tomatoes, corn, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, garlic, leek, onion, scallion, radish, pumpkin, cucumbers, peppers, chiles, carrots, spinach and lettuce, among others. (It is best to avoid “exotics,” such as mizumi.)
Primary herbs utilized for food include: cilantro, basil, oregano, mint and garlic.
Afghans were once famous worldwide for their love of flowers! All kinds of flower seeds – from cosmos to sunflowers, geraniums to roses, are welcome, with the exception of poppies. Poppy seeds will be discarded or distributed to American gardeners.
Please be mindful of seeds that can spread quickly and impact the land and grazing animals negatively (such as kudzu, jimson weed, datura).
Fruit and nut tree seeds that have been handled against pests and sealed in packages are very welcome!