There are just no attractive alternatives at present that can give them a return anywhere near the return opium gives," said John Dixon of FAO's Agricultural Management, Marketing and Finance Service.
The participation of local communities in assessing and developing alternative income opportunities will be crucial to ensure local ownership and to address constraints to implementation before adopting these activities and promoting them beyond the initial project areas.
"We are training people on the ground - from village level up to national political level," said Dixon
Re-establishing post-harvest processing capacity for selected traditional Afghan products such as high-quality nuts and dried fruits offers one opportunity for improving livelihoods, according to Dixon
"The moment you build up local processing activities, you create jobs.This can give poor farmers off-farm income opportunities that can help lift them above the poverty line and provides cash for agricultural inputs," he
...According to Dixon, a host of interventions will be needed to ensure sustainable progress in the fight against poppy production: restoration of infrastructure, health and education facilities, power, communication, law and order, to name a few.
"It won't happen overnight, but building up production, marketing and processing capacity will help re-establish acceptable income-generating alternatives.Coupled with effective law enforcement, initiatives like this can contribute to gradually reducing dependence on the drug crop," said Dixon
"This project is a point of departure," he