Support to Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD)

Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL)

Support to Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) project


The technical assistance to “Support Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD)” project aims to improve the food security in terms of agriculture production and market development in the two districts of Karokh and Zindajan in Herat province.

The project contributes to the Government of Afghanistan’s National Priority Programme 2016-2025 (NPP 2) for comprehensive agriculture development which “fostering agricultural production and rural development (with special emphasis on sustainable crop intensification and diversification to improve productivity, and agriculture diversification with emphasis on livestock productivity, aquaculture, and sustainable forest management)”.

The project expects to be able to implement a model approach on how the Government can facilitate and coordinate the needed support to vulnerable and food insecure households through its decentralized institutions. This, together with other model approaches, in support of the development and implementation of a NPP-2 National Framework.

The SARD is a four years’ project implements by Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affair with the technical assistance of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO). The total budget Euro 2,500,000 (disbursed in two equal tranches). The first tranche was implemented in the two districts (Karokh and Zindajan) of Herat province since April 2015 until December 2017. It has been planned to expand to two more districts of Ghoryan and Gozara districts of Herat province in the second tranche started at Jan 2018.

Overall Goal

The overall goal of the SARD project is to improve living conditions of the rural communities through the implementation of a new strategy aimed at developing subsistence farming and small-scale agriculture production. 

The specific objectives are to improve agricultural production and productivity of smallholder farmers and small agro-producers in two Districts of Herat Province through the provision of agriculture services and inputs adopting an "Extension system" mechanism.

Project Expected Outputs:

Output 1: Agriculture production and productivity of the target groups (smallholders’ farmers and small agro-producers) increased and Market Development strengthened in the two Districts of intervention.

Output 2: Capacity development of the local Institutions to make the two target groups able to benefit of the Project.

Output 3: Mechanism and Management Unit of MAIL/DAIL for the implementation of the Project model established.


Progress- Project achievements

At central government level, a coordination team of the project established within MAIL Extension Directorate who has coordinated project implementation activities with representatives of MAIL, the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), District Extension Team, local Non-governmental organizations as well as community-based organizations (CBOs);


Support to Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) project can be an effective on-budget extension model project for extension service delivery which allocated some amount of the budget for Technical Assistance (TA) to FAO, as result it introduced a mechanism for the General Extension Directorate to support Ministry of Agriculture on mobilizing on-budget delivery services which was accepted and adopted as culture of Ministry for stakeholders and implementers.


The project conducted a household census and baseline survey in Karokh and Zindajan districts of Herat province surveyed 25,696 households consisting of 151,640 people which helped the project and MAIL to plan, coordinate, implement and deliver necessity based services to the farmers as well as by the first tranche, a total 402 CIGs groups were formed, surpassing the original project target of 202 groups by more than 100 percent. Furthermore, as the results of the end-line survey suggest, the project’s success is reflected in the fact that the CIGs are efficiently utilizing their revolving funds, while their groups capital doubled and is self-sustained;


As Institutional Capacity Development: The project provided different Training of Trainers (TOTs) in specialized forms to address the specific needs of the farmers’ groups, helped formers to enhance their capacities in agriculture production, processing, marketing and value addition. In total, 20 TOTs provided benefited 940 people. The training not only improved their productions as well as it created an opportunity to link with market actors and to network with other farmers’ groups and learn from each other, as well as connecting with private seed producers and other input suppliers;


During the first tranche 28 Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) established as result of this activity the extension officers reported that the production increased 32% compare to the local method, especially in saffron and wheat production. Besides this, the project paid special attention to the empowerment of women and successfully included female farmers and female extension workers in project implementation, as result 6.72 percent of female contributed in the project;


In term of the inputs provision, the project supported 180 MT of Saffron corms to 898 farmers, 120 MT improved seed and fertilizer distributed to 4800 farmers, 368 Jerib pistachio orchard established, 100 Jerib fig orchard established in Zindajan district, two saffron associations formed as well as 200 milk processing packages, 100 bee hives of honey, 4 processing centers (120 women), 100 Mini- Greenhouses and, wax printing machine procured/established.


Furthermore, the project developed district profiles for Karokh and Zindajan, the dataset linked to the MIS of Ministry of Agriculture. Profiles are the complete dataset consisting of district demographic, population, land size, access to land as well as the number of CIGs, major crops and animals, potential value chains and major livelihoods in each district as result it would have helped the project and MAIL in policy making, future planning, and design new programmes;


Overall, the project achieved the results set out in the project document. The project also contributed to increase food production and market development, enhance capacity of extension workers and farmers in term of Good Agriculture Practices and improve commercialize agriculture production for vulnerable livelihoods and farmers.


Total Budget

First Tranche: Euro 1,250,000 (April 2015- 31 August 2017)

Second Tranche: Euro 1,155,305

Total Budget: Euro 2,500,000