$100 Million Agricultural Project Launched in Helmand
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Officials from the Helmand branch of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MoAIL) announced on Monday that an agriculture project costing upwards of $100 million was under way in the province and would hopefully be completed within three months.

The officials plugged the initiative as an opportunity for residents to turn away from violence that has plagued the province, traditionally a hotspot for insurgent activity, and instead focus on peaceful and productive means of improving their lives.

Abdullah Ahmadzai, the MoAIL's provincial head, said that the project was already started in 11 districts of Helmand. He said so far saffron corms had been distributed to 380 farmers, chemical fertilizer and seeds given to 7,400 others and livestock equipment and housing facilities provided across the province.

"The goal is to bring jobs in agriculture to create changes in the lives of Helmand residents," Mr. Ahmadzai said. "I am not a political man, but I can see security issues are caused by the lack of jobs, especially amongst the youth."

Mr. Ahmadzai encouraged insurgents to join the peace process and said the MoAIL would make provisions available for them to live peaceful and prosperous lives.

"We have a plan to create 550 gardening plots available to those who renounce violence and join the peace process," he said.

The MoAIL office in Helmand has formulated a longer-term, five year agriculture programme it plans to implement. They claimed the programme would dramatically improve security and economic conditions in Helmand.

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