Basir Sowida is a young chicken farmer in Afghanistan. Five years ago he made one of his dreams come true; he’s been running his own farm in Mazar-e Sharif ever since. He is being supported in his endeavours by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which is working in Afghanistan on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). GIZ provides training on technological and organisational matters to farmers like Sowida, as well as to traders and producers, and teaches them how to run a business. Among other things, the training aims to improve the quality of agricultural produce. And the idea is for those raw goods to go on to be processed within Afghanistan too. Not only does that generate jobs, but processed goods bring in more money. Sowida is just one of 16,000 Afghans to benefit from GIZ’s support so far.
Before I started the chicken farm I studied economics. After I completed my studies, the Taliban came to Mazar-e Sharif; that’s why I went away, to Europe. I spent seven years in England. While I was there, I worked in the poultry industry and learned a lot. But I wanted to come back to Afghanistan. I can apply everything I learned while I was in Europe in my own country too.
Working with my friends on the chicken farm makes me happy. I’ve turned my dream into a reality. We’ve broken new ground with GIZ. We’ve been working together for about two years now and it’s very encouraging.
When I came back to Afghanistan I was absolutely fixed on the idea of setting up my own business. I wanted to earn money for myself but also to provide others with work. I started out with two employees; now six people work here. I told friends and acquaintances that they should go start their own businesses, and they took my advice. They began small, with just 100 chickens, and over time they’ve built up flocks of between 4,000 and 5,000 chickens, just like me.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few problems to occupy us here in Afghanistan. The numbers of people wanting to buy our poultry are still too low – we really need to promote it more. Having said that, there’s already been a marked improvement. Until a few years ago, people thought that white meat, like chicken, was dangerous and they’d only eat red meat. There’s still work to be done in our chicken sheds too. Our advantage is the fact that we are organised as a cooperative and work together every day. And we’re holding our own on the market.
Fortunately my business is going from strength to strength every day. I’m in the middle of setting up another farm. With GIZ’s help, the plans are gradually being put into action. GIZ supports me; that support means that I’m able to introduce new technologies. We’d also like to expand further.