Drought in Badghis Province: Agricultural Lands Left Barren

In the wake of the prolonged droughts and decreased seasonal rains, a drastic decline in agricultural yields in most provinces has been observed. Presently, some farmers in Badghis province are expressing concerns over the unfavorable state of agriculture. According to them, wheat production in this province has halved. Some farmers mention that in the past, in addition to preserving a portion of their yields, they used to sell the surplus in the center of Badghis province and other provinces. However, this year’s yields may not be sufficient for their families either. In addition to wheat, barley and sorghum yields in Badghis have also decreased by approximately 60 percent. Local authorities of the Taliban in Badghis also confirm the decline in agricultural yields and attribute it to the consequences of the droughts of the past five years.

Droughts in Afghanistan have led to an unprecedented decline in agricultural production, causing significant losses to farmers in various provinces. Some farmers in Badghis claim that this year, compared to previous years, their wheat, barley, and melon crops have seen a reduction of 50 to 70 percent.

Mohammad Juma, a resident of the Tagab-Ismail area in Badghis province, states that his wheat production this year has decreased by 60 to 70 percent due to the ongoing drought. He, who cultivates dryland wheat every year, told the Hasht-e Subh Daily that this year, he has struggled to cover his expenses due to the reduced yields. According to Mohammad Juma, extravagant costs for farming and decreased crop yields because of the drought have caused losses for those who invested in cultivation. He added, “This year has been a disastrous one for farming. In our region of Tagab-Ismail, even the dryland crops yielded nothing. In the past, from these same lands, if we used to get 4 metric tons, this year it’s down to 1.2 metric tons or maybe 1.6 metric tons at best. Either it dried up or was scorched, bearing no grains.”

This Badghis resident also mentioned that as a result, he had to take out loans this year. He said, “Farming hasn’t covered our expenses this year, from seed money to tractor and from plowing costs to Ushur (the Taliban taxes), when we calculate it all, we’re forced to dip into our savings or take out loans. The situation is very dire. If we don’t engage in farming and cultivation, we have no other choice. Despite the drought, we keep ourselves busy with farming to avoid unemployment.”

Badghis province is also renowned for its melon production in the western region of the country. However, landowners and farmers in this province claim that this fruit’s yields have experienced an unprecedented decline this year. Some landowners and farmers in Badghis province told the Hasht-e Subh Daily that due to the prolonged droughts and lack of rainfall, melon yields in this province have decreased by approximately 60 percent. According to them, every year, due to increased production, they used to export Badghis melons to neighboring provinces, especially Herat. However, this year, due to the lack of yields, fewer melons from this province will be exported to other provinces.

Mohammad, another landowner in Badghis province, says that every year, in addition to selling melons in the city of Qala-e Naw, he would also send them to Herat province for sale. Nevertheless, this year, he couldn’t obtain any melons from his land for sale. This Qala-e Naw resident states, “In previous years, it was very good; there were abundant yields, and every vineyard had four to five melons. But this year, there’s nothing. Some vines haven’t produced a single melon. Rainfall has been scarce this year, and it has been in a drought for several years. What’s worse is that pests have increased, and worms have infested the melon patches. The melons that did yield were also affected by these worms.”

Mohammad expresses serious concern over this year’s significant reduction in yields, both for himself and other farmers. He tells the Hasht-e Subh Daily, “Just a year or two ago, I used to take the melons from this very land to Qala-e Naw for sale. We would share melons with our relatives and neighbors. The yield was so good that I would load them onto trucks and take them to Herat province for selling. But this year, even we do not have enough of them to eat ourselves.”

However, the Taliban in Badghis also acknowledge the decline in agricultural production in this province and attribute it to the prolonged droughts in Afghanistan, especially in Badghis province. Mahiuddin Bashari, the head of the Taliban’s Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock in Badghis province, states that the five to six-year droughts in Afghanistan have had adverse effects on agriculture, with these effects being more pronounced in Badghis due to the predominantly rain-fed lands. According to Bashari, years with higher seasonal rainfall in Badghis satisfy farmers with their yields, but the absence of such rains, as seen this year, results in an unprecedented reduction in crop production. He adds that wheat yields in this province have decreased by around 50 percent, and other crops face a similar situation due to the lack of rainfall.

Previously, farmers in other provinces had also expressed concerns about the prolonged droughts in the country. Due to the absence of water, most farmers have been forced to abandon agriculture and seek other means to earn their livelihood, often struggling to put food on the table. It’s worth noting that the United Nations and other international organizations had previously warned about the likelihood of successive droughts and unprecedented decline in agricultural yields in Afghanistan.