In one area, a 150 acre terraced hillside had no water. The aqueduct and irrigation systems that brought water to the hillside had been destroyed. The villagers and TIE both agreed that once water was restored to the hillside, it would be planted with fruit trees. TIE found three local Afghan engineers, who each made a bid on an irrigation project that would bring water to the hillside. One engineer’s bid was selected and the irrigation project was completed that fall, at a cost of $19,000.
With the water in place, TIE then embarked on a process to purchase and distribute fruit trees to Lalander’s farmers. Growers in the Lalander valley were willing to sell TIE two year old apricot and apple trees for $1.25. At that price TIE could afford to buy enough trees for 160 farmers.
These farmers were selected by the village leaders, who then placed their orders. Most selected apricot. The trees were planted during March There were reports of a few farmers who took their trees to market in Kabul for desperately needed cash. We recognize how difficult it is for some families to think “long term.” The trees wouldn’t bear significant quantities of fruit for four to five years. Instant cash was more valuable than long term returns. But we were also gamed. Five years later, we’re much better at the games people play. We’re veterans.
Another round of trees were planted in March 2007, bringing the total for 2006 and 2007 to 22,481 trees. In 2007, none were taken to the market in Kabul. Fool me once…..