I had an appointment to interview Rahima, a female farmer, in a village called Rigi. My male colleague, who was driving, arrived to take me to Rahima’s house. I got in the car and we started on our way. We were following a car driven by Rahima’s husband, Rasul. He was guiding us to their house. It could be dangerous for me to go to the village as a female reporter, and I was worried about security concerns, but at the same time, I was eager to have an interview with Rahima.
We passed the asphalt road and unpaved road began. Our car was jumping up and down. We crossed a bridge and arrived in the village. The houses were small and old, often with farm animals in the yards. The roads were dusty, but the farmland was green with cucumber and watermelon.
After thirty minutes, we arrived at Rahima’s house. Rahima, 40, is an uneducated woman with eight children, including three daughters and five sons, but she is different from other women in Farah because she owns a dairy farm which is famous in her village. She had just finished feeding her 25 cows when we arrived.
“When we were living as immigrants in Iran, I sewed clothes to support my family. Through this, I saved a sum of money that I invested in jewelry,” she said. Her family returned to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, but still faced financial hardship, so she came up with the idea of selling her jewelry to buy a cow which produced milk, and then selling the milk. “I was able to buy one cow, and then I started my business,” she said. “I sold milk, butter, and yoghurt, and this began the dairy farm.”
The farm runs without modern equipment, and Rahima works every day from about 5 a.m. until 7 p.m. She sells about 25 to 30 kilos of milk per day. It is a family business that involves her children and her husband. One son delivers the milk to the homes of her customers. Another son has a shop in the local bazaar which sells milk. Still, all of Rahima’s children have either finished their schooling or currently go to school, and her oldest daughter teaches in Rigi. “I know my daughters could help me here, but I never wanted to play with their future,” she said. “I send them to school so they can become teachers, doctors and others who serve Afghanistan.”
At the same time, she feels she too is serving Afghanistan in her own way. “It is a pleasure for me to work on my farm which I made myself,” she said. “When I work, I feel proud that as a woman, I can do something for my family and community, because I know people use milk to drink and to cook, and this milk is clean, healthy and safe for them to use.”
Her husband added: “I am proud that today my wife, as a female, is able to do what she does.”
Rahima wants both government and non-government officials to pay more attention
to dairy farms in Farah province, providing workshops that would encourage women to go into farming, and improve livestock and agriculture practices. “I ask the government to provide some training,” she said, “since if we could make bigger farms, we could make enough to export, and that is my wish.”