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Opium Growing in Afghanistan: Permaculture to the Rescue?  RSS feed

 
                                  
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There's an interesting article in Slate, the online magazine, which describes the opium growing process in Afghanistan (http://www.slate.com/id/2221757/). 

It seems like Permaculture could really come to the rescue here.  Consider this quote, "But due to the labor investment, the actual profit on one acre of poppy (about $850), while still higher than wheat ($200), is far less than for other traditional Afghan crops like grapes ($1,000), pomegranates ($5,000), and almonds ($6,000). Unfortunately, without international aid—which is difficult to deliver in Taliban-infested regions like Helmand—most Afghan farmers can't afford to wait the few years it takes to get a fruit or nut orchard up and running.

Anyone know of some fast growing fruits and nuts that might work in that region?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Perhaps a more important question would be:

Does anyone have ideas for how best to interplant subsistence and cash crops with young vineyards/orchards to obtain a yield from land while slower-developing species establish themselves?

It could be that a stand of pigeon peas sparsely interplanted with almonds would have about the right lifespan.  There might be a way to manage the understory of grape vines to pump up the nitrogen content in early years to boost vegatative growth, then rapidly extract that nitrogen once the plants have matured enough that they can begin fruiting.  I hear grapes are good companions in general, and might even improve the yield of some important annuals.
 
Brenda Groth
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while the vines and trees are growing they obviously could put in berry bushes and annual vegetation..and they would be far better off by going diverse than cropping an entire area with one crop like they do with the poppies..as a crop failure would wipe them out.

OBVIOUSLY they don't eat poppies..so what do they grow for food? what about pastures with sheep and goats..isn't that a local crop for that area?

sure poppies are an obvious cash crop..but it obviously has no other benefit than cash..sure i grow poppies in my garden as a pollinator and deep growing plant..but..i grow food and other things in mixed beds..

they WANT to grow the poppies..they know how to grow other things..they did it years ago before opium became so valuable..and they can do it again.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Brenda Groth wrote:
they WANT to grow the poppies..they know how to grow other things


I think to some degree the Taliban are the ADM of Afghanistan.  Nominally, it's a mutually agreed-upon business relationship, but it's very difficult to get financing or access to markets or the support of authorities without choosing methods and species that support centralized power.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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It seems like the climate is similar enough to here where I am that alfalfa ought to grow well.  It could be intercropped with young orchards and used for animal feed (and the manure from the animals could then be used to fertilize the orchard....)


Kathleen
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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So, then: alfalfa, pomegranates, almonds...

...plus rabbits, chickens and wheat?  Changing the understory to clover and carrots (an Afghan native plant!) as alfalfa seeds stop germinating, and adding in goats as the rows of trees mature enough to be coppiced in rotation?
 
rose macaskie
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Its a really good idea.
      I have not read this forum for a day it might be full of new stuff i hope i don't repeat others.
     When i came to Spain thirty years ago the villages were almost empty, the people in them had gone to the towns and abroad to find work and also they were bare of plants. I remember entering a village in summer, the sun beating down on it and just one tree that was spretty pretty severely pruned, it was an oven, i thought, "the Spaniards are so austere". In England Spaniards have a reputation for austerity and they can be very austere. However as everyone got richer the villages have filled with terraces covered in vines and such, geraniums, Virginia creeper, the old bareness was pure lack of money. If you are very poor you spend your money on eating, finding fifteen Ehros for a tree is difficult.      
       Flood the market in Afghanistan  with free plants or nearly free ones, it is perhaps cheaper than sending them the army, it could hardly be more expensive. It was not the Afghanis that attacked America it was those crazy followers of bin Laden a Saudi millionaire. I suppose their government is guilty of not controlling the Taliban but you can't hold a whole population guilty for what that lot of backwoods gangsters got up to.  A Moroccan writer Fatima Marnissi said that in the time when the soviet union was in Afghanistan, among the intellectuals in the Islamic world, they wondered why America was hobnobbing with the taliban, in the Islamic world known to be really ignorant backwoods people.
     
 
       They might live off the land but they belong to the same tradition as us unlike sub Saharan Africans and South Americans. They belong to the tradition of the Chinese plough that caused the dust bowl, the ruining of the good soil that the native Americans had accumulated and of the overpasturising, a Mediterranean tradition, and maybe a Islamic one, the Islamic world runs right round the Mediterranean.
       Maybe overgrazing for fear of fires is Arab. They need sepp holzer or Bill Mollison or Geoff Lawton or Paul Wheaton as much as anyone does. Islam gave us good irrigation systems and gardens but they have bad traditions, they overgraze the land as they do here too, they don't know how to grow really luxuriant pastures or they are pleased to keep them down and the fire risk with them and they have overgrazed for so many centuries that they consider the miserable state of the pastures the fault of the weather, even though they do everything to reduce the pastures for fear of fires. I am supposing they are like the people here. They may be think their clearing of all vegetation for fear of fires only ruins soils because of the weather when it would ruin them anywhere. One thing that is human, is to be very clever and to have abisms of stupidity all at the same time.
  I was in a different Mediterranean country from Spain at fifteen years old on holidays and they knew how to grow plants but they did not have good farming tech¡niques that would allow them to grow a lot and they were really poor. That why its good to travel you understand the situation of others better, you can't think they know more than they do.

      After a life time of hearing things that come from him without knowing the leader of organic farming existed, i have just been reading about him, Sir Albert Howard 1873- 1947 and it seems there was a man called Sprengel 1787-1859 who decided that plants only need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and they can be grown with only these things though they grow better in far more complex situation.  A man called Liebig 1803-1873 pretended this idea was his and fought for it , which is what has made our farming what it is. Sir Albert Howard was in favour of humus and said that to  conceive of nitrogen phosphorous and  potassium as the only things you needed in the soil was to take into consideration the phisics of the question but to ignore the biology and chemistry of plant nutrition.
 The chemistry of the soil is such things as that humic acids help molecular changes that help plants absorb nutrients or that nutrients can get locked on to soil particles and humic acids help reñease the nutrients by taking their place, i am not a chemist, i hope i am right, and maybe more things.  The biology of plant health and nutrition would be such things as that, that fungi have more efficient water and mineral absorbing roots, mycelium, than plants so that if they are in the soil they help plants absorb more nutrients because fungi do it for them, and plants give the elaborated food like sugars. Fungi also lighten and oxygenated soils and irrigate them and translate nutrients from one part of another. paul stamets say they bring nutrients to young trees who aren't receiving light because older trees shade them and cant elaborate nutrients for themselves.    
      For me, much as chemical fertilisers can feed plants they don't make a soil better at absorbing and retaining water which is so important in places like Spain were the dry season is of two and a half to three months or maybe more. In all places you might get a weeks or two of dry weather in the growing season and having a soil that absorbs and retains more water is a great advantage if something like that happens.
     The main stream of education has been to follow the ideas of Sprengel, that nitrogen potassium and phosphorus are all thats necessary for plants for two centuries, though there were plenty of scientists who approved Howard's ideas he was even knighted for them so our formal education has blocked one part of the scientific argument, so Sprengels ideas were bound to spread and reduce farming ability all round the globe and we can talk of the Afghanis maybe being able to grow well themselves when we with more means can't and when we can see on the television how deserted their hills are.
      Now they say as Howard said that plants do absorb organic nitrogen amino acids and peptides, so the only minerales was wrong.
      I was not taught Howard's ideas at school i was not taught about mycorrhizae and much about humus though people used manure instead of buying fertilisers as a way of getting the nitrogen phosphorus and potassium. Though part of organic ideas wafted round the in the atmosphere, the ideas that liebig taught had have received prime attention to the detriment of other ideas whose worth scientists approved to.
 Translating this web and lots of other bits of information into Afghani would probably be good for Afghanistan as it has also been for me. agri rose macaskie.

   
 
rose macaskie
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I meant to say couldnot we send them expensive big trees big measures for big problems.

An idea I mentioned in another bit here, is to send over juniper seeds to feed the sheep and goats and then take the herds over the mountains to seed them, leaving droppings as they walk full of seeds. The junipers, oxycedrus and the indicus, should be the ones that are native to Afghanistan, they are very hardy and bare little rainfall  and lots of sun and they are very good for beams an columns as building materials, they have taken juniper beams out of roman bridges and they were still alright.  Get permies all over the world collecting seed. They take a long time to grow but seed thickly at first which can make for them being small. Also the fruit feed the live stock.
  The olive and its wild variety the acebuche form thick woods in dry countries if you let them, Jesus Charco. El Bosque Mediteraneo en el Norte de Africa. Biodiversidad y la lucha contra desertificacion. Tamarinds are very good in deserts too. 
  They pull out oxycdedrus here, that grow as undergrowth to the pines, when they clear the woods, Maybe they could do it carefully and send them to Afghanistan. agri rose macaskie.
 
                                  
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Opium growing is much more labor intensive than fruits and nuts.  The poppies have to be revisited often during the harvesting.  "Workers slice into the pod, permitting the crude opium sap to ooze out and dry on the shell. They return later in the day to scrape the sap, then scrape once or twice more the next day. Because individual farmers cannot complete the process for even a small field before most of the pods die, they have to hire an army of migrant laborers from throughout South Asia. More than 350,000 workers are required for the Helmand Province harvest alone."

As the article goes on to say, "The process is also dangerous. Most harvesters, many of them children, develop opium addictions or serious health problems by absorbing the sap through their skin. (Some farmers can tell when it's time to harvest poppy because they wake up with headaches and nausea from the fumes.)"

To me the most interesting thing about this situation is that almonds, grapes and pomegranates are more profitable than opium in Afghanistan.  I would have never thought that.  I wonder how many people, even policymakers would have thought that.  This is huge.  It means that there should be more realistic options available than just eradication.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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rose macaskie wrote:  Flood the market in Afghanistan  with free plants or nearly free ones, it is perhaps cheaper than sending them the army, it could hardly be more expensive.


The market?  Sure, but why not the land, as well?

An old interview with Fukuoka relates his experiences planting marginal land in northern Africa.  Daikon grew better there than in Japan, but people had to be persuaded to dig up the radish part of it, rather than just eating the greens.  Near the end of it, he fancifully suggests dropping seedballs from military aircraft.  I wonder if that idea's time has come.

It occurred to me that each seed ball could have a hole poked in it before it hardens.  Then the seed bead could be slid partway over a feather, which would slow its fall, perhaps keep it from rolling, then collect dew and rain, and later help to shade out competing plants.  Dropping such things out of an airplane would have to be part of a larger effort, obviously, as the daikon radish story illustrates, but it might be an appropriate action to take if the individual farmers need plausible deniability with local warlords.

Edit: A more practical way of using feathers.
 
                                  
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I love the seed-ball bombing idea!  It should also work in Columbia or anywhere, I would think.  Just find economically and ecologically viable seeds that would out-compete with the opium, marijuana, or coca plants.  It would force the growers to make some very difficult choices.  They would have to think hard about getting rid of the "invasive" plants that would at least provide them with some income, if not as much as their drug producing plants in some/most cases.  Also, if they did try to get rid of the invaders, they would likely have to destroy their drug plants in the process.  Very interesting.  It certainly would be better for the soil and environment than chemical defoliants.  And, dropping seed bombs would be much easier to sell to the public than dropping chemical bombs.
 
Brenda Groth
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well my point was..if opium was not so beneficial $ wise they could go back to doing what they did before..they were wandering shepherds that lived in tents off the pastures..

remember there are some things that their religion would prevent them from growing or eating..so there are a few restrictions..i doubt if rabbits would be included as was mentioned above.

but certainly the poppies could be removed by herbicides..let the land rest during the rest of the season and plant it in the spring with new crops..however..have you ever seen how many seeds there are in one poppy plant pod ?? they will replant very easily..either there or somewhere else..fortunately seed poppies take two years to bloom..so they could again be removed before blooming with more herbicides and then the new plants put in.

but trust me..they'll have a stash of seeds waiting to replant again..they WANT the $ from the poppies..and they certainly do not want to be told what to do.
 
rose macaskie
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I don't feel aggressive towards them for growing poppies, we impose some terrible tyrants on people in poor countries, they helped to defeat the soviet union and we just forgot them.the west is a  sort of top dog still in the world and top dogs are seldom popular, they are likely to feel a good deal of aggression towards us. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us, turned into, remember we trespass against them as well as them trespassing against us with their opium, anyway they are just very poor and their own people are beginning to be hit hard by heroine.

  Bruce33ef said that other crops were more profitable so maybe we ought to make sure they had access to them and that seems to be a sort of happier thought than destroying their opium  because it is less negative as a thought, though destroying their opium benefits them as well as us if what bruce33ef says about children harvesting the crop getting addicted is true.
    Maybe they don't have much say in what they grow, maybe the taliban hard arm them, may be they don't get much out of opium but the taliban do. if we make it easy for them to grow another crop because they did not have to borrow money from the bank in order to buy lots of vines to establish the crop. If they have a real alternative it  might make it easier for them to face up to the taliban and refuse to grow opium. It is more expensive to put in trees or vines than to sow poppy seeds. Keeping armies there is so expensive that anything that reduces the length of the troops stay must be worth while, with out talking of costs in lives. Then in this economic climate it is easier for us too to spend less this year even if that means more years with the same big expenses.
  Maybe the Spanish army could collect juniper seeds in Spanish woods as a way of exercising them and then take them to Afghanistan, junipers are good on pasture lands they would fix the soil on slopes they are not a crop for your best agricultural land i suppose opium poppies are grown in flat agricultural lands that are in the valleys I imagine.  The ones I have seen on the telly are on flat lands. Here in those parts where the farming is still traditional, crops, rather than pastures , are on the easier to work and less erodible flatter bits of land. good old fashione dfarming techniques and good modern farming technics it is never a good technique to plough slopes making them liable to erosion in the first torrential rainfall. agri rose macaskie
 
rose macaskie
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i was watching the daily show john oliver talking about Afghanistan maybe its better to stay real and think of sabotaging the poppy crops with some devastating weed as well as being nice and filling their land full of nut and fruit trees. recently they always have photos of green bits of village on the news instead of dry hill and talking about doing a sepp holzer on their land seems unecessary. agri rose macaskie.
 
Leah Sattler
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I think this is a great idea. but I haveone serious question that could be a major hangup concerning the crops that are worth more. I'm not trying to be negative I'm just wondering if there are more serious difficulties then bare bones agricultural ingnorance or problems.

can they make more profit on other crops in theory or practice? meaning are they worth more but there is no market? are people too poor to buy it? export restrictions? (real or imposed by gangs) they use migrant workers to harvest it which implies that alot of the population is transient. the few dollars that go into the economy through the workers likely move on and don't form an economic circle in the area.  having a  valuable crop is worthless if you can't sell it. remember too that there is far more expense then initial purchase of seeds, seedlings, and saplings. there is equipment to harvest and transport it, facilities to store it, products to ship it safely and efficiently, safety regulations adn criteria and documentation that is to be met sometimes by countries that are importing it.

if this problem is to be tackled all difficulties must be addressed and I think those difficulites are likely far more about politics and culture then the ability to grow things.

seed bombs I like that......
 
rose macaskie
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Leah sattler, one thing is looking at the down sides of each question so that everyone can understand the problems and resolve them or re-evaluate everything but here, in this forum, the problems once they get started seems to drown any discussion of the solutions. 
    Once the problems are mentioned everyone is afraid of sounding stupid if they go on, or simply there are a lot of people who think permaculture is stupid, a bit of knocking people of their balance is fun but too much is just no good for any sort of project. Its not my project but i have been pushed around so much, lost so many battles, seen so many good projects get knocked off the road to amuse the someone or other that i have sort of taken against being played with anymore, i like to have a duel with those who do.  agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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  You think people don't grow things well and manage their farms badly? know how to grow things but ruin there soils for example, or not buy more trees or grow them from seed. Don't the farming folks ruin their soil all the time or fail to have the fruit trees they could have with a bit more get up and go.
    Why do people grow things well and manage their farms badly, ruin their soils? They just do, it might seem illogical but it happens all over the world in America and Europe the middle east through to china,In Australia and North America everywhere. i believe the soils of Africa escaped this untill the last century.  You can't deny it however much it is not logical to you.
 scientists dont say i don't believe this thing i see because its not logical, they see things and then try to explain them. If you refuse to see things that arent what you expect when they are in front of you because they aren't logical, you will twist reality, though maybe only through trying to be real.
 
       You can understand reason for farmers to know how to grow and at the same time to ruin soils. Sometimes a new fashion and sometimes an old one creates an imbalance. If you decide that undergrowth competes with olives trees for nutrients, such a decision could be a modernish idea, then you might destroy the undergrowth, then there will be less organic material for the soil at the foot of your trees and the trees will go hungry, you will  have less nutrients in the soil.
         At first, if you start to grow undergrowth again, the soil will be so poor that nutrients the undergrowth takes up will  make the trees go hungry and produce less, except for the fact that if the soil is very poor not much will grow at first. Later, when the undegrowth has bettered the soil, things will right themselves. Another point is that, as herbaciouse plants die down in summer, they are not competing with trees in the hardest season.  
      Things are just complicated and the mistakes of taking one road that seemed right gradually become evident, though sometimes we have gone on making the same mistakes for centuries. The greeks and romans first went roving to buy wheat because their lands where so eroded that they had trouble growing wheat in them and only had vines and olives. They then eroded the virgen soils of Spain and other coutries growign their whaet in them, which have probably remain over exploited since those days.  
    Over grazing is in the old world  fromSpain to china and it does not make sense to ask if the afghanis who know how to grow plants need agricultural advice, they have done what has been done in all the old world, spoilt their soils and so of course they need permacultura as all the hot countries do .
    Everyone on this side of the atlantic knows it happens and in Spain though they new how to grow trees from seed, they did not grow fruit trees from seeds when i first came here they waited till  they had the money to buy them.
       It is not logical but if you fill Afghanistan full of garden center trees, ones that are adequate for the climate they may grow more trees than they are growing now. In england people can grow trees and don't usually start orchards unless they live were there is an orchard growing tradition. i don't know why but if the trees were plentiful and cheap they might be tempted to start. When you have never really imagined growing almonds because your thing was goats if you go done to the shops and find lots of cheap almonds, you might just think of incorporating them into your farm somehow. The sheep in some parts of the east of Spain and Mallorca eat almond leaves and the shells of their nuts, so double advantage, browse for your goats and almonds for the table.
       The first permaculturist decided to improve the soil with a food forest, people from other schools  designing methods for how to improve soil have thought of just planting clover and grass and a few bushes, currants  for the wild animals with an absolute minimum of grazing untill the soil improves but in a poor country it is better to grow a food forest, instead of just improving soils with any old plant. they can't afford to be improductive for a few years.
     Food forests may seem a bit strange if you don't understand the circumstances in which they were trying to better soils, but when you understand the goal was improving soils in japan where country people would not do anything if it did not feed them, it is not so strange, and the goal of persuading people in poor countries to improve soils still exists, so the importance of growing food forests, of doing what paul wheaton tries to do,still exists.
     We still need to give an example and extend our knowledge of what will grow in a food forest so as to make them more sucessfull for those they are meant to help so making sure that people adopt methods that help the soil and air. Bettering the food forest system  is something the poor can also do.  In rich countries  they could just say, lets grow lots of undergrowth and when the soil is better we can think of exploiting it again, also in hot countries a bit of shade, that given by trees can be a good thing.  agri rose macaskie.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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One small correction:

To prevent cracking, the seed balls should be allowed to dry and shrink without anything stuck in them. 

If the feather idea is to be workable, a hole poked through them should be large enough that after shrinking, it will fit over the feather's calamus and be held loosely in place by its barbs.  Not sure it has much merit anyhow, but didn't want anyone to waste that effort.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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bruc33ef wrote:
find economically and ecologically viable seeds that would out-compete with the opium, marijuana, or coca plants. 


From what I understand about all three of these, that sounds like a tall order, if you mean competing for sun/water/soil nutrients.  Coca, especially, since it's a shade-tolerant tree adapted to the Andes mountains.

My thought was just to compete for human attention.
 
                                  
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polyparadigm wrote:
From what I understand about all three of these, that sounds like a tall order, if you mean competing for sun/water/soil nutrients.  Coca, especially, since it's a shade-tolerant tree adapted to the Andes mountains.


It is a tall order and would require consideration of region and microclimate as you allude to, but it's certainly worth thinking through completely before killing off.  Also, if, for instance, it turns out there are no useful plants to compete with the coca plant in the Andes, there could well be less productive or potent coca cultivars that could displace the more harmful ones.  That might not be a permaculture solution strictly, and would have to be followed up with useful plants, but could be a step in the right direction.
 
Leah Sattler
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rose macaskie wrote:
  You think people don't grow things well and manage their farms badly?


of course they do. but its not the whole story. especially when such practices and the resultant social issues, poverty, economic and political upheaval have basically ruined generations. your not just fighting the poor soil and the normal challenges of growing things in soil that has been depleted and poorly managed, your fighting people who are stuck in their ways, disheartened, pessimistic and poorly educated not to mention often likely under threat.
 
rose macaskie
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polypardigm, you still sound like a girl, you have so many decorative ideas, bobbing floating pottery balls that airate lakes and feathers in seed balls. Its a nice idea, though thinking of finding and attaching feathers to seed balls is a bit overcoming. A good use for old feather pillows and duvets.
        The feathers would work as horn does, as a sort of fertiliser as well as helping in the seed balls flight down from the aeroplane and maybe stop the seed balls from runing down hill did you mention that already i can't remember? Just think how warriors dress in many parts of the world or of the old world and how prettily painted fishing boats are and maybe decorative ideas are perfectly masculine. I would like to understand the balls aerating lakes idea better.
          There, another idea for a source of fertilisers the feathers from all the poor chickens we exploit.   
          Some filosopher or other said that modern man had lost his pollyfacetic nature that was more healthy. That, more old fashioned human groups combine hunting say, getting their food, with religion, praying to the gods of the hunt, with art, painting their faces for the hunt and our poor selves have to loose whole chunks of experience, as each job goes to different people, the priest serves mass and the artists and decorators  paint and those who keep food in our mouths and a roof over our heads work and they dont just go on hunting expeditions every so often but on a relentless long work days. Somebody fill in which philosofer so it can be chequed up.  agri rose macaskie.
 
Michael Littlejohn
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Hi to all,

Hope the following is helpful.

I have property in SW Texas USDA Zone 8b (Presidio County)....I have some ideas though it is difficult to 'prescribe' for a given region, based solely on the fact that it is good opium-growing country. But here are some ideas:

Livestock forages and seed sales: The following species would probably do well there:
Forage Kochia
Greasewood
Winterfat
Four Wing Saltbush
Moutain Mahogany (three varieties)
Hackberry (three varieties)

The chief advantage being that you can harvest the seeds and the plants actually benefit from being grazed. Afghan goats, sheep, donkeys and cattle as well as wild deer will graze all those plants.

Ephedra

Also a livestock forage and used in the pharmaceutical industry.

As a crop, Blackberries are pretty hardy and adaptable and produce in 3 years. They are easy to propagate.
 
rose macaskie
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    Going on to talk of mediteranean trees used for fodder, a bit for leah Sattlers goats and for the Afghanis, who sure as all hell know it all already but it would help people going there to understand islamic type farming methods and you need to know what exists if you want to help improve it
  by the way sepps sons work for him don't they his farm supports several families then. it is market gardening would it have to be adaptded for cereal growing Fukuoka did that.

      I mentioned above almonds as being a tree sheep and goats would eat. I want to say that i don't know if they are a good forage for livestock or simply what there is where there these sheep live. The argan espinosa has speccial fame as a forage tree so i suppose it really is good for them Leah Sattler buy an argania spinosa for your goats. It is a tree that jesus charco mentions as being used to feed the goats and he does nt in general talk of using the leaf of trees for the live stock, so i suppose it is specially good for feeding the goats these trees are called haniging gardens because the goats walk around in their branches as if they were in a garden i don¡t suppose anyone would have remarked on it if they weren't specially good for live stock. He mentions this in his book his book on maroccan woods, El Bosque Mediteranea en el Norte de Africa, so a very hot country tree growing just north of the tropic of cancer and with examples in the sahara desert. 
     
      You must remember that sheep and goats brought up on an extensive system in spain are driven, always with their shepherd and always being moved on, so the shepherd can decide if they are to overexploit this tree or not. As the fruits of this tree are are very valuable, as much for oil used in the kitchen as in cosmetics, i suppose its survival is assured.
      The oil from the  fruit is meant to be better than the oil from olives. I have seen it once sold here in a health products type of place. 

    According to the book on spainish races of sheep Razas Ganaderos Españolas C.  Esteban Muñoz. edited by the author and the govement departments FEGAS and MAPA.  that mentions the food the different varieties of sheep eat  The sheep of the  breed Mallorquina eats the leaves of almonds and the casing of its nuts in autumn the olive feeds  them because of the "ramon", branch and the seeds of the carob tree ceratonia siliquia.   The almond, carob tree and olive, are  trees that live in hot countries, hardy for the heat and lack of rain in bad soils. Are hardy the way that it interest Leah Sattler from a hot part of the US for trees to be hardy. the carob tree is aa tree whose leaves i have not seen mentioned as ramon as feed to live stock.
    The race of sheep  Maellana from Catalonia the part of Spian around Barcelonia, the north east side of spain where this breed live, ana rea the book describes as a cereal growing region, where olives and almond abound. the maellana eats the stubble, the ramon of olives and the cake from the olive presses "orujo de oliva" and the shell of almonds. Almonds like walnuts have a green fruity bit around the shell of the nut. I don't know if they eat the woody shell or just the outside fruity bit or if the woody bit is softer when the nuts are just barely ripe. The book says the shell as in all the shell.
  Maellanas also are said by this book to eat the fruit of the fig and the algarrobo a very sweet bean  whose flesh feed humans and live stock the beans are all of the same weight and used to be used to weigh preciouse metals.  The vine, as in grape vine that could maybe be grown over leah sattlers cedar hedge. Pampana, leaves cut from the vine in autumn, the acebuche wild olive, pistacias lentiscos, rosemary, heather and cistus. Handy little sheep the maellanas.
  '        It seems that here in Spain, at least were traditional farming persists though there is mostly alongside intensive farming, factory farming, that they feed the live stock on the subproducts of whatever else they are growing, the branch, which is to say, the leaves the animals can get off branches you have cut for them, of olives grown for their fruitof oaks grown for their fire wood and acorns,  i have not heard of them eating the leaves of citrus trees , the leaves of almonds and of the the juniperus thurifera whose wood is so good for beams.
      In the canaries there are races of sheep and cattle that feed on the subproducts of the banana industry all the banana plant except the banananas, canary island cows sheep and goats to eat these and though the cows get slight diarhea it does not really effect their health, they go on pulling carts poor things. this sort of information must be getting old fashioned in some parts as i write. 

    Olives are hardy trees in the sense that it bares a long hot season good for Leah Sattler and the olives, when they go black and in winter loose their bitterness and are good for the fauna, birds, and mice that will eat your insect pests. Maybe they are good for pigs and sheep and goats and cows and horse so they are one of the fruits of the wood that help feed live stock.  I eat mine black and wizened and they are not to bitter for me to eatit is true have youever tried them overripe?  that so they must be all right for live stock , black birds come and eat mine i htought the animals would like them when i planted the tree. 
      I heard of a austrlalian farmer in a cookery program who kept deer to eat the prunned branches of his olives, so in the west, so to speak, there are people who want to combine the production of fruit from trees and live stock who eat the grass at the trees feet and prunned branches. The restaurant was cooking deeer steaks.
      Spanish olives trees seem to bare a fair amount of frost as well as baring heat and drought, i have one in my garden a "picual" at a thousand feet where there are frosts and to my suprise, iit has not been burnt by them.  I have just looked it up and baring frosts is a charicteristic of this tree less tolerant to drought than other olives.  Many parts of Spain were the mediteranean does not  have an tempering influence, the climate is extreme,  hot dry summers and coldish winters, what Paul Wheaton calls real weather, though the winters are maybe not real enough for him. Add to that the many mountains and you get a lot of places that used to have pretty cold winters before global warming.     
       
        Other mediteranean  trees whose leaves  the live stock eat on in dehesas are the madroño, arbutos unedo and  the almez, celtis australis, to mention two of them. These are mentioned as trees whose leaves feed the live stock in the book of Cesar fuentes Sanchez on deheseas. Their fruits are also eatable for us, i don't know, are there are studies of how many kilos of fruit junipers and these two trees and the many other berry carrying trees produce, of  how usefull are they for feeding live stock and junipers ripen in winter one tree in autumn and another in spring all through the winter.  The sabina albar the juniperus thuriferas' leaves are used to feed the live stock i have read in several places, particulary of those trees that have sweeter, less bitter ,leaves than most sabina albars, however reluctant i am to believe it.
    I did not know the live stock ate ephedra that it was used as fiorage as texan8b says, i only know that they are part of what grows on the slopes of the banks of the River Sorbe betweeen the villages of Humanes and Puebla de Beleña, and on a bit, some pretty hot dry place bits of land so I know they do to repopulate places that have suffered from imporverished soils in places with  longish hot dry season and they are pretty covered in yellpw flowers in in spring  with a softbluish green stems, they only have residual leaves and that when the seeds are ripe they are yelowish and the stem lose their green colour so it is a bush that changes colour all the time. i suppose the fact that some of the bushes i  have photoed have had so few branches indicates that they ave been eaten.

  The thing about afghanistan is that it is very hot and dry and with very high mountains. Maybe some prat of the rockies is like Afghanistan
.
        Here in Spain if i complain of overgrazing their are always those who say sheep eat pastures lower than cows. Yes but not till there is nothing left, they are not wild animals they are taken over the ground, you can stopp taking them or sell a few if there is not enough pastures. The poor have it difficult to get by when thigns get rough, it is the rich who can borrow money on bad years. If the live stock ruin pastures it will be necessary to plant more and if they ruin the soil they will have nothing for a few years. Also cows too can spoil soils, my grandmother, who had cows, took them off the feilds the minute they had eaten them down to a certain level or they too would do for the pastures. She also took them off the land when it was wet ,they can ruin pastures trampling them when the grounds wet the grass gets trood in.

    I am sure the Afghanis understand the sort of farming that includes the leaf and fruit of trees they use it in moroco they probably use it in afghanistan too,  the problem is,
    that if those who go there don't understand  the use of trees in a sylvan agro pastoral tradition which is is healthy for soils, it is eoclogically sound to have trees around rather than knocked out of the agricultural tradition, they will give good advice and as our children or us ourselves may go to a country like this and at the moment have troops in Afghanistan it is important that the great majority of the population understand it.
    Of course people with an agro sylvan pastoral tradition have to stop overgrazing if they wish to have healthy soils, overgrazing so impoverishes the soils in open woods of the  type that belong to this tradition, that the trees end up`lacking nutrients and dying.
    Other factors that reduce the organic material in a sylvo pastoral tradition are that the sheep eat the fallen leaves of the trees in autumn and as they spend the night in the stables these don't end up on the land and that the detritus of junipers, the fallen leaves, flowers, fruits, bark, of junipers gets used in stables as the smell of juniper deters insects from entering the stables, this also reduces  the organic matter in the woods.

    May be trees in the woods are even more ecological if no one prunes them and gives the leaves to the live stock, though prunning can help the health of trees. Many storeyed trees create a greater thickness of microclimate below their canopies, they must hold in the air to a great extent unless there is a wind blowing humidize the air and cool it and probably absorb moisture from the air, shade th eground from the sun and as many trees have very relfective leaves reflect the sun away but as it is difficult to insist on local populations baring with the prescense of trees if they are not an advantage to them, do not produce food or money. If westerners don't understand the use of trees in these countries they may give bad advise about them like that you must not use folliage to feed animals or that it does not feed them and by rendering the tree useless they will condem it to death.
  Also just as we have valuable things to learn from  this system there are things that may be we could teach them and if we don't understand the system how can we bring our scientific knowledge to bare on it,  to better it. They have scientists too but who knows which person will have a scientist who gets there first-. Also understanding what i have learnt here could help experts in Afghanistan ask the sort of questions that would increase our knowledge of these systems and help us.
      Last the influence of the west is so great, even while they hate and despise us, that it makes the people from other countries drop their good old fashioined outre systems with the bad old fashioned onesthety are afraid all the old fashioned is going to make them look ridiculouse. . We criticise them for over pasturising and they drop not just that tradition but all others old fashioned ones, so it is desperately necessary that we understand the good traditions and praise them extoll them as they deserve, they are usefull against desertificatio and might get lost if we don't. trees are really important ecologically. and more so where there is  desertification. agri rose macaskie.

       
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I imagine almond fruit would be fairly good fodder.  I've never eaten one, but they look more appealing than bark, at any rate.

On the other hand, I really like the idea of sweet-pit apricots, where the fruit and the nut are both edible...
 
Jon Storvick
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yeah, sweet-pit apricots are great - 2 crops in one!
 
                    
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polyparadigm wrote:
Near the end of it, he fancifully suggests dropping seedballs from military aircraft. 


I remember reading once about cardboard seeding devices - this design combined a maple wing helicopter element with hooks that allow the cardboard pieces to interlink and lock on the ground.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Interesting: a farm and training center is opening up in Kabul, focusing on orphans and widows.

http://permaculture.org.au/project_profiles/middle_east/permaculture_institute_afghanistan.htm
 
rose macaskie
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      When i think of aArica or other places were we english for example left our foot print, it seems to me that we were not good fathers to them.
     Human nature fights between two poles the generose and the wish to protect ourselves or families and that makes us  mean on the information level, we keep the information that gives us the biggest advantages to ourselves.
        If you are prepared to be a manager you are used to the idea of spending your time on the end of the telephone or organising the work of others, if you are brought up as a worker as i was in as a woman and also as a woman who was not good at her home work, you wash the plates for them and feel bad if you aren't taking a part in the jobs that have less cash renumeration and lead to less powerfull positions. I think it is parents often who teach people to be or not to be bosses. Other managerial skills are how to employ people how to find out what you want to know on the telephone or in the market place. etc knowing more or pretending to know more than others.
    if you go to a country and teach them to read and write and not to manage, a farm say or buisness then when you go they can't manage on their own. Countries need a lot of alpha dogs and the most usefull thing you can teach are manegerial skills,
    Law, how many lawyers do you need to have a reasonable number of honest and good lawyers to keep everyone straight, law is prehaps the most important base skill so you can establish the others. Japan had a lot of trained beaucrats it was easy fo r it to quickly recover at the end of the war the situation of countries with less infrastructure is reallly differetnt after a disaster.
  we put people from third world coutries  in the world market we get them to produce world market crops but the europeans at least did not give them the manegerial skills of economic or legal ones to protect their property from us, the sharks. We have robbed the egoods of aAfrica payin gto little for them an dindirectly we cause lots and lots of deaths and stull we get really upset if we rob off them.
  i read that the Mongolians and that boook said that theirreally good  comunications pony post allowed them to conquer as much of the world as they did.   
  Why does is the parliment full of people who look as if they had not the cofidence or experience to hold their own verbally unless i was mistaken about the pictures and their relation to the commentary. I remember a documentary shown just after the two towers that was full of people who looked really intelligent or at least accosto¡umed to and and able to stand with the best is someone trying to surround themselves with the least capable of the population. agri rose macaskie
 
John Meshna
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I really believe that agriculture could be the salvation of mankind.  Food is something every living being can relate too.  No one is left out.
Organic, sustainable farming projects are sprouting up all over the world, even here in the US. http://www.archisacres.com/
Agriculture can bring almost any group of people together in common purpose.
 
rose macaskie
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  i believe in permaculture systems for bettering farming and reducing desertification, I don't believe in them for everything.
   We the ENglish left zimbabwe without teaching the people how to run the farms that the English new perfectly well how to run. We English caused their starvation now.

  While no one recognises that the ways of waving a batuta are unloving and uncaring, that part of social abuse will continue to exist with or with out permaculture. the rules of carrying the batuta, include not teachigng others to step into your shoes, the english didnot teach the zimbabweans to step into their shoes. and now the zimbaweans  dont know how to run a farm.
  A difficulty understanding what  the potential of others is is one of the reasons for not passing on information, not teaching them what we know because we believe they wont ever make the grade so why teach them or because we dont want competitors. We don't live in their heads is in part the culprit for people imagining others are stupid, conversations are not often very inclusive of a lot of themes and so it can be easy not to know what others are capable of, if we can persuade ourselves others aren't capable of much, we do them no harm when we dont teach them. I believe in the bishop teaching all others at the level he woudl teach himself.
The rules for how to wave the batuta, the necessary polcies for maintaining a firm hold on it, include, being aloof and distant, so as not to lose authority , this is not freindly or loving or kind , reducing the credit of employees by noticing the stupid things they say so you can say, "of course i should decide, look how stupid so and so is", maintaining them in ignorance, not sharing your knowledge,,this  reafirms your right to be the boss, threats, coercion such as threaqtening them with  blackening themand doing so, reducing their moral and intellectual cache., and so their influence and reducing their money, making their allotment only just big enough for survival, excedent gives you power of a reasonable sort, such as to employ a lawyer to be less terribly dependent on a emplooyee, to buy the opinion of an expert and to adquire a computer or buy books, etc. and these themes are not really dealt with in permaculture except in as far as each person is independent but that does not include the independence of spouses i suppose, or deal with possibly overbearing behavior towards your children or of your children, also permaculture  talks of community living without mentioning the difficulties because of bullies in community living. of course establishing a strict hierachy is one way to smooth out difficulites by puttign in stablished bulllies but a cruel one, the themes the heads talk about are vital themes and if all the members aren't included in the discussions they must suffer anxiety about having no say in important matters  and boredom from being excluded from the vital themes and as a woman i have a lot fo revindicating to do for my kind on this matter. 
the thing that is so attractive about karate kid is htat the corean shows the kid to manage bullies and shows him in  a quiet sort of way. NOthign i have read about permaculture fill in that need in life as caraty kid does it just helps with agriculture an dglobal warming and anti desertification.  agri rose macaskie.imself at and the lawyer and so on.

       
 
John Meshna
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What?
 
rose macaskie
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I was brought up with a fear of the totalitarian with Spain’s fascist totalitarian Franco at one side and with Fascist totalitarian Hitler at the backs of my parents, my father fought against the Nazis, and communist totalitarian Russia to the east of us in England, we were brought up with a fear of totalitarianism, of people who thought there was one way and that it was right, so i can't say permaculture will help all ills. Maybe those who like totalitarianism have a different psychological makeup and life experience than i do. Also i come from another country that gives me a different historical background and so attitude from the American one. agri rose macaskie
 
                                
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In the first place, many of the ideas for revegetating Afghanistan do not take into account the severity of the lack of vegetation or moisture in the greatest percentage of the country. Secondly, they do not take into account that the largest portion of the country is mainly adaptable to grazing. Thirdly, the people of the country are basically attuned to a nomadic herdsman existence. I do not believe that many of your readers or contributors know anything firsthand of subsistence agriculture. An extensive aerial seeding project of specific species adaptable to arrid intermountain regions during the dormant period, from mid November through January would be the start of attempting to turn the tide. This could be accomplished with none of the interaction of any of the bureaucracy and the beneficiaries would be lowest on the totem pole, the herdsmen themselves. You would have to be specie specific in order to have a chance at success. Surface germination in dormant season is essential. One of the more likely species is Kochia prostrata or Immigrant Forage Kochia as it is more commonly known. A Blackhawk loaded with 1,000 pounds of certified seed would seed 12.5 square miles and accomplish the task in less than an hour. Now you are talking about economy of scale. The cost would be miniscule in comparison to some of the ill spent money which is taking place. Because of the severe overgrazing which has taken place over the last decade in particular, you would have to start out at a large enough rate to keep ahead of the goat population which would grow geometrically with the food supply. Once the populace is not worrying about what's for dinner, now you can begin to work on some of the finer points.
Sincerely,
Greg
 
rose macaskie
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  wasgrassman, Did you here of the farmers suicides in india , the story goes and i have it from an article on a BBC  program  they decided to buy good seed rice seed, comercially produced rice seed. but if i understand it right  it is manufactured insuch a way that though it produces a crop it does not produce viable seed and these farmers though they could afford to buy seed one year did not expect to do so every year they expected to keep part of the seed harvested to replant on finding they had to buy more seed it broke them and they commited suicide.  Is it a good idea to bring them seed in afghanistan. probsbly grass seed is not breed to have seed that is sterile.
  the other problem with our seed is that it has little genetic diversity it is all one type of seed in tradicional farming such as that practiced by laura ingall wilders husband each farmer grows the seed he want to use to plant his crop with . Almanzo wilder has bought ihis seed withhim to the west and is willing to do almost anythign before givign up ihis specially grown seed. They have a hard winter are sufferign from hunger an dwant him to give up his wheat seed. if all farmers grow their own varieteis their is a big variety of seed a big gene bank this is not so with seed from big companies.
    In te north of india,m in the thar desert, they say they have deep rooted grasses that bare long terms of drought. Do big seed companies grow the sort of seed that is usefull for very dry places?

  Here in Spain there is overgrazing for fear of fires, purposeful overgrazing so any seed you planted would get overgrazed yuo would have to deal with fear of fires before you could better pastures, it would be . areas you could flood,  if you wanted stop the over grazing and get them to have  optimum grazing vegetation.
  They can do seeding themselves they take the animals to a place with lots of seed and then to the place they want seeded and the seeds that pass in the sheeps heces seed the fields. agri  rose macaskie
 
                              
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whoa. This thread is pretty crazy, but I'm a little crazy too so that's OK. So I think this is all interesting as far as brain storming goes... Military peeps dropping seed bombs, OK sounds freaking awesome....

IT also kinda smells like another case of US thinking we know what's best for THEM.

So I think the thing about addictive plants (somesay drugs) is that there is always a huge demand. We as a species love opium. Hopefully that will shift to more... enlightening plants, but opium is pretty darn useful I'd say. Anyway... If farmers do start shifting to apricots and grazing etc... well that just means the remaining opium fields become that much more valuable. People all over the world are willing to pay more when their favorite plant is in short supply. Very quickly a feild of opium is up to $3000 again, and the people let the orchards die to grow poppies the next season.

Or maybe not, and some prefer the orchards and grazing or whatever. but like some people have already pointed out, it's a much more complex problem than poppies vs fruit. If producing opium were legal in the USA there would be feilds of it, no matter how many seed bombs you dropped... seed bombs/balls/tsuchi dango are awesome though.
 
rose macaskie
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You right about thinking we know what best, but unless you are very rich what you have is often conditioned by what you can buy, i know it what i have is conditioned by what i can buy, so you could do a bi of facilitating trees and such  in afghanistan and earth works to harvest water with maybe.
      Opium is usefull, i want it if i am in great pain, if i imagine a worse case death for myself i want opium. i have i think tried it once i was told it was somthign else and i ftell you it has a powerfull incapacitatingly strong and amusing effect it is definately something that you would not take twice its attractions are so evident that its danger is also evident.
        Is it useful to the villagers in Afghanistan though, or do only the mafia heads get their paws on the real money. Would they not be better off with somthing they could eat and that does not poison their children.
  bruc33f wrote the best bit on this he says that they could earn lots more with several other plants he sighted a study on the subject.
      I would love to know i f they too overgraze for fear of fire as happens here. Here  they have a mania for clearing everything for fear of fires, my great discovery is desertification for fear of fires and i want to get it confirmed . Here in spain they do double think on the themselves, they all think it is right to wipe vegetation of the face of the map for fear of fires when undegrowth dries in summer but they think desertification is for other motives .
      If i am right wont it be easier to stop overgrazing and desertification, we will know what we face, we will ask for fire breaks instead of banning goats. agri rose macaskie.
 
                                  
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From the NY Times this morning:

"Mysterious Blight Destroys Afghan Poppy Harvest"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/world/asia/13opium.html?ref=global-home

The military denies they're responsible for this and that does seem credible, but it might not be a bad idea if it wasn't for the fact that the increased scarcity generates a windfall for producers who are not affected by the blight.  The whole idea, though, of a "designer blight" is an interesting one to ponder.


 
Emerson White
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It's all about how value dense Opium it. You might replace it with saffron (retail price, about 50,000 per acre) if you had a market, but it's all about being able to move hundreds of thousands of dollars on one truck full of opium, that is the only way the taliban can keep the Afghan government and US soldiers from taking it away from them.

The soviets worked very hard on designer blights to wipe out american crops, before they collapsed in a heap in the 80's
 
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