Going Forward, 2017-2019
Rod Carvajal, Chief of Party
The year 2016 was an important milestone for CHAMP. USAID extended the program three years for a total of ten, a rare and distinguished event for any development project. This attests to CHAMP’s ability to maintain its relevance in support of the Afghan high value agricultural export sector and to the country’s economic development goals as a whole.
CHAMP was designed with the market foremost in mind, promoting crops and product varieties in line with market demands and requirements. As CHAMP matured, the emphasis shifted from production and product quality to enhancing other critical aspects along the value chains that it supports – most notably post-harvest handling and marketing. In 2016, CHAMP prioritized these activities as part of an earlier two-year extension and continued to evolve, principally in its assistance to its traders so that they could target higher-end markets, while still meeting and even surpassing its export targets.
As we move forward in 2017 we will continue to make the export of high value agriculture products a priority. We have the added challenge of expanding our product and geographical coverage to include all horticultural products and regions of the country. Moreover, we will be undertaking a greater objective, that of enhancing the export capabilities of the entire horticultural sector, not just a limited number of value chains. To this end, we will implement activities that affect production, the business environment, and market access of all firms operating in the sector.
Some of our upcoming activities include improving the effectiveness of air cargo shipments, establishing an Agricultural Export Knowledge Management Unit that will disseminate reliable data on agricultural exports, investment promotion of cold storage and pack house facilities, certification, capacity building of traders, and enhancing the capacity of the domestic packaging industry.
We are humbled, and at the same time emboldened, by the new scope of work that CHAMP has been called upon to implement. We are heartened that this new way forward is well conceived and grounded in CHAMP’s past experience. It will catalyze CHAMP’s impact throughout the entire Afghan agriculture sector, including the establishment of superior product quality, a supportive business environment and a cadre of export-ready firms that will put Afghanistan’s legendary produce back on the map – a truly justified conclusion for a decade-long journey.