Ferula assa-foetida is an important medicinal plant, a valued cash crop and a native plant of Afghanistan’s range-lands.
Cultivation of hing (Ferula assa-foetida) in watersheds is documented by the Sustainable Land Management Project which is implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Ferula assa-foetida, or hing, is a medicinal plant that grows well in shallow sandy and alkaline soils in semi-arid climates and at high altitudes and is a native plant of Afghanistan’s upper catchment areas. Due to the enduring conflict and the consequent breakdown of community-managed grazing in upper catchment areas, most range-lands in Afghanistan are been seriously degraded. Uncontrolled grazing of animals and growing cereal crops on range-lands are the main contributors to the loss of vegetation coverage in upper catchments. One of the negative consequences are flash floods occurring several times a year, damaging agricultural lands, irrigation canals, houses and other infrastructure while often also causing fatalities.
In order to decrease the risk of flash floods, improve pastures and extend cash crop cultivation in upper catchment areas, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation has implemented community-based watershed activities such as structural and agronomic measures to control water runoff.
Hing has been identified as a suitable agronomic measure in watershed management in Saighan district. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and the target communities selected hing as a valuable cash crop and a suitable plant for watershed rehabilitation. Today, hing is cultivated on 1,400,000 m2 (140 ha) in nine watersheds and with the participation of 1500 families. The growing period of hing depends on the local climate but tends to be 5-10 years and culminates in the pants’ flowering. During the first five years hing has grey colored leaves. Later a stem appears and grows more than a meter high. The stem is large and yellow and at the end of the main and subordinate stems are yellow flowers. The width of the hing root varies between 7-15 cm and usually goes as deep as 30-40 cm into the soil. Hing plantations have been established with the involvement of the local communities and are managed by the responsible watershed committee. The harvest of hing is organized by the watershed committee and all households have the right to participate and sell hing for income generation. To maintain watershed activities, such as hing cultivation, a safe box has been created for each community-managed watershed. The watershed committee manages the safe box and collects funds for maintenance, community development and emergency projects, according to the watershed management plan which has been developed by the local communities with support of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation.
Natural / human environment: Bamyan is a remote province of Afghanistan with a high poverty rate. It has a semi-arid climate with cold winters and hot and dry summers. During winter, temperatures can drop below -22 degrees. Summer temperatures can reach to 34 degrees in the month of July. The average annual rainfall in the area is about 230 mm and some years can be very dry. 90% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods and off-farm activities are marginal. The growing season in Saighan district is relatively short from April to October and farmers can produce only one crop per year. Farmers with access to irrigation water cultivate cash crops, for example potato and vegetables, in addition to staple (wheat) and fodder crops. Those without access to irrigation water cultivate wheat and fodder crops only. Water scarcity from May to September may result in a lack of high value crops.
- 1-10 平方千米
The technology was introduced since 2012
多年生（非木质）作物 - 指定作物:
- 药用、芳香、杀虫植物 - 多年生植物
Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Lack of management in upper catchment area over the last decades resulted in a severe loss of vegetation and in the loss of biodiversity. Uncontrolled grazing of animals during the spring season prevented seed production of domestic plants. Hot temperature in summer burnt the remaining parts of domestic plants. Each year, the soil is washed away by heavy rainfalls creating gulleys which further reduced the vegetation cover.
Major land use problems (land users’ perception): The users of watershed areas cut shrubs for fuel and graze their animals. The lack of alternatives left them to overuse resources in upper catchment areas during war and conflict.
Future (final) land use (after implementation of SLM Technology): Cropland: Cp: Perennial (non-woody) cropping
Number of growing seasons per year: 1
Longest growing period in days: 120, Longest growing period from month to month: March to July
Livestock density: 10-25 LU /km2
- Extensive grazing
- cultivation of medical plants
Type of agronomic measures: better crop cover, mixed cropping / intercropping, cover cropping
Main causes of degradation: crop management (annual, perennial, tree/shrub) (The upper catchment area have broken to agricultural lands), deforestation / removal of natural vegetation (incl. forest fires) (Domestic shrubs have been cut and have been used for fuel energy), overgrazing (Without management people grazed their animals in spring season and prevented from the plant seed production.), war and conflicts (3 decades internal wars in Afghanistan)
Secondary causes of degradation: droughts (Continiuosly 3 drought years also had a rule for burning plants in upper catchment areas), poverty / wealth (During internal wars, people were not able to go in other provinces and only they had access to agriculture land and livestock for their livelihood)
Cultivation plan of Ferula assa-foetida:
Plant to plant distance 100 cm.
Line to line distance 100 cm.
Seed depth 1-1.5 cm with;
3-6 seeds in one spot.
Location: Saighan watersheds. Bamyan
Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: high
Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate
Main technical functions: control of raindrop splash, improvement of surface structure (crusting, sealing), increase of infiltration, Increase vegetation cover through cash crop
Better crop cover
Material/ species: Ferula assa-foetida
Quantity/ density: 4 plant/m2
Remarks: plant to plant and line to line 100 cm
Mixed cropping / intercropping
Material/ species: Ferula assa-foetida and other domestic plants
Quantity/ density: 1 m2
Remarks: Growing domestic plants between Ferula assa-foetida plants
Material/ species: Ferula assa-foetida and other plants cover the naked area
Shabir Shahem, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, Afghanistan
|1.||Hiring guard for protection of watershed from uncontrolled grazing|
In 2015, the government of Tajikistan did not limit the export of seeds to Afghanistan.
Good quality seeds are available in Tajikistan. If the government of Tajikistan limits exporting seeds to Afghanistan, seed costs may increase.
- < 250毫米
- > 4,000毫米
Thermal climate class: temperate
- 0-100 m a.s.l.
- 101-500 m a.s.l.
- 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
- 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
- 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
- 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
- 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
- 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
- > 4,000 m a.s.l.
- 非常深（> 120厘米）
Land users applying the Technology are mainly common / average land users
Population density: 10-50 persons/km2
Annual population growth: 0.5% - 1%
10% of the land users are rich.
35% of the land users are average wealthy.
45% of the land users are poor.
Off-farm income specification: The importance of off-farm income is marginal. However, hing cultivation in the watershed presents a viable opportunity to generate income off-farm for the involved communities. Hing can contribute up to >50% of off-farm income.
The watershed belongs to the communities and all households have the same rights.
The income is saved in a communal safe box and is spent for community development and emergency issues.
- < 0.5 公顷
- 0.5-1 公顷
- 1-2 公顷
- > 10,000公顷
Watershed committee manage the income of Ferula assa-foetida productions through safe box investment
contribution to human well-being
Improve the economic opportunities of the community to generate income
When the plants grow more, cover area and infilterate runoff
Reduction of flash flood protect lower part resources
Should be cultivated away from flood stream area.
The estabIishment costs are high because hing yields only after five years. However, the investments and maintenance costs are quickly returned once hing can be harvested.
100% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support
750 land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support
In this calculation, the total number of families in 13 villages are considered.
There is no trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology
The establishment costs are too high.
|Increase in production of the valuable plants in the upland areas.|
|Protection of the lower lands from the risk of flash floods.|
|Introduction and increase in valuable cash crop cultivation in unproductive lands.|
|New income opportunity and increase in income of the community members.|
|Reducing flash flood through increasing vegetation coverage|
|The watershed area is common land.||Need active watershed committee members to manage well (good governance).|
|People lack alternatives and have therefore no stake to protect the upland areas.||Negotiation with herders to reduce the number of their livestock because of introduction of as new alternative source of income.|
|Tangible benefits are only visible after five years.|