Tuesday, May 15, 2012

From poppies to pips

From http://www.pforp.org/the-story-so-far/

"In 1999 James Brett founded Pomegreat the first commercial pomegranate drink in Europe. In 2004 in a newspaper article James mentions he would like to see things change in Afghanistan and that pomegranates could help. In 2007 James attended a horticulture seminar in Kabul Afghanistan and whilst there ran into a field of opium farmers and convinced a farmer to grow pomegranates. Two months later James returned to Afghanistan and erected a sign on the farmer’s land that read “this land has been acquired as an alternative livelihood from poppies to pomegranates. The next day James appeared on national television in Afghanistan and urged farmers to grow lots of pomegranates. So many farmers came forward that James realised something large scale could be achieved and was introduced to some elders in the tribal system in Afghanistan.

Plant for Peace was born and James organised seven tribal gatherings across Afghanistan. The gatherings known as Jirgas were a great success and over 55,000 elders attended across the country. International support started to grow and the Marquess of Reading organised a charity dinner at Kensington Palace in London for 144 guests including some key Afghans who had helped arrange the Jirgas.
As a pilot scheme James organised the planting of 40,000 pomegranate trees and distributed 25,000 “sign up forms” requesting farmers to sign up to Plant for Peace; 22,000 farmers signed up.
With so much support the Plant for Peace strategy needed developing into a national horticultural initiative."
The key to James' success was that he did some simple sums: Net value of opium leaving the farm was $240 per kg. The price of pomegranates was only $1. But a hectare of poppies yields 44.5 kg, whereas a hectare yields 21,450kg of pomegranates.  So, the value to an Afghan farmer can be double if he turned his poppy fields into pomegranate crop!
Not only is he helping Afghan farmers, he is also reducing the supply of opium. And, the added bonus is that pomegranates are credited with 11 health benefits - http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/11-health-benefits-of-pomegranate-juice.html.  It's a win-win-win situation.

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