Panjshiris benefit from poppy-free status
Written by Headquarters United States Forces Afghanistan   
Friday, 23 January 2009

Release Number 20092201-01

January 22, 2009        

KABUL, Afghanistan – More than 100 Afghans attended the Good Performance Initiative ribbon-cutting ceremony, signifying the official handover of agriculture machinery and irrigation system projects at governor’s compound in Bazarak, Panjshir province, approximately 100 km from Kabul, Jan. 13.

Last year, General Khodaidad Khodaidad, Minister of Counternarcotics, awarded Provincial Governor Haji Bahlol Bahej and the people of Panjshir $1.4 million for being a poppy-free province.

The award money was invested in five development projects identified by members of the Panjshir Provincial Development Council, district committee, village shuras and the provincial governor. The projects included the construction of irrigation systems, structures and water supplies, provision of agro-machinery and the establishment of greenhouses and fruit orchards.

“About 95 percent of the Panjshir population is currently practicing subsistence agriculture,” said Greg Schlenz, Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team’s U.S. Department of Agriculture agricultural advisor. “The overall objective is to provide long-term livelihood for farmers, so they [can] earn more crops from their fields.

The Good Performers Initiative was established by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in 2006 to provide development assistance awards to Afghan governors who exhibit political will to substantially reduce or eliminate poppy from their provinces.

Members of the Panjshir PRT spoke with pride about the accomplishments of the government and people of Panjshir.

“Our core objective is to implement projects which will improve stability with the intent that more traditional forms of private investment can resume,” said Lt. Col. Mark Stratton, Panjshir PRT commander. “Panjshir is a model province and sets the example and standard for other provinces in Afghanistan to follow.”