In Afghanistan, US Supports Agriculture to Curb Insurgency

    A U.S. marine helps an Afghan farmer load a bag of fertilizer onto a wheel barrow. The U.S. provides agricultural assistance to farmers in exchange for their collaboration with the Afghan government. Photo by: United States Marine Corps Official Page / CC BY-NC 2.0 United States Marine Corps Official PageCC BY-NC 2.0

    The U.S. is tapping one program in hopes to counter Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. That program is the Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agriculture, which provides supplies and services to farmers in exchange for their collaboration with Afghanistan’s government, The Wall Street Journal says.

    The USD360 million program primarily targets farmers in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, where the U.S. military’s surge against Taliban advances is focused this year.

    AVIPA helped jump-start the provinces’ economy and generate support for Afghan authorities, WSJ says.

    “What AVIPA did is provide massive employment. It showed that there is a carrot—and that to receive that carrot you need to make an effort and reach out to the district government,” said Kevin Melton, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s field program manager in the Kandahar district of Arghandab.

    AVIPA also provided the coalition forces in Arghandab with direct tactical benefit, including denying Taliban forces of the overgrown vegetation that they use for concealment.

    But it does not always work, WSJ says. Some villagers in Taliban-heavy districts do not accept money from the program because they fear the Taliban’s retaliation. Some U.S. officials have also noted that distributing large amounts of supplies and cash under AVIPA is not sustainable in the long run.

    AVIPA is being implemented by Virginia-based private contractor International Relief and Development. It is scheduled for budget replenishment in August 2010.

    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.