These Afghan Women Are Turning Everything Green: From Local Crops to Local Economy

In the Shibar Valley of Afghanistan, the once dry, mountainous terrain is now growing with a variety of crops.

Not surprisingly, it's all thanks to women behind a new wave of agricultural change — a transition that The New York Times has recognized as something not only improving dinner plates, but also the economy, and the overall status of women.

"In the old days, only potatoes and wheat were grown here," said Zainab Husseini, a farming union leader in the village of Iraq-ulya. "Now we introduced cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables."

This has all happened because of the recent establishment of small village farm unions in the Bamian Province, where the women have updated old agricultural traditions to ensure a diverse, sustainable food supply in an impoverished, remote region.

These unions have implemented small supply chains at the market in the center of the Province. This is in effort to shift their economy away from dependence on foreign aid. 

In this process, the women who run the groups are finding new status and empowerment. The New York Times noted somewhat of a gender role reversal in this farming tradition – "husbands tend to walk after their wives, trailing a couple of steps behind with rolled-up sleeves and sun-beaten faces."

Though there are still challenges that the region faces with transportation costs and more, these women behind the operation are no longer greeted as the mothers and wives of men in their communities, but rather as the successful union leaders they have become.

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