Reports quote the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) as saying (2012) that rangelands and pastures constitute between 45% to 70% of the country’s land area.
According to reports, a thousand or so pastures are distinctively named and over 30 others are between 100 and 1000 square kilometers in size and in addition to the hardy bushes, they produce and which provide winter fuel for 59 % of the population, the pastures provide green grazing and winter fodder for livestock.
In Afghanistan, locals own livestock more than farmland, with a national herd of 30 million animals, as a survey said. Only 5% of the land is irrigable for cultivation and even landless tenants and sharecroppers making up to a quarter of the rural population, usually own a few sheep and goats.
In our landlocked and arid country which depends upon moderated snowmelt for almost all of its water, the preservation of mountainous pastures plays a critical role.
As an accurate survey suggests, more than 17 million rural people of the country live by agro-pastoralism and need stable access to pastures, as they have no other way of economic sources. In the northern half of the country, this takes the form of classical transhumance, where, in summer families move with their animals from valley locations to high pastures which are otherwise snowbound for up to six months of the year.
More importantly, the location, distribution and attributes of pastures are also acutely imperative to the one million or so nomadic pastoralists which are locally called Kuchis who migrate to highland pastures in spring and summer.
The Kuchis living in our land-locked country, are not ethnically relating to a special tribe but includes, mostly Pashtun and then Baluch, Aimaq and Arab communities (are in some extent nomadic) as well as fewer Uzbek and Tajik who communicate like members of a single family all over the country, but, sometimes, during the three seasons of the year, heavy conflicts happen among them, that result in deadly incidents.
Over the last long years, the then governments have not managed to overcome this destructive local crisis.
In the last few years, scores of houses have been destroyed or damaged between the local residents and the Kuchis, at the beginning of spring, with the local officials taking measures, however not duly.
In other parts of the country, similar incidents claimed several lives and wounded numerous others, as the then government had no firm will and plan to permanently resolve the long disputes that have undermined brotherhood and friendly relations among them.
Disputes on lands or grasslands are not taking place between the livestock owners and the local residents, but also it has left a legacy among even members of a family, as recently three people were killed as a result of a dispute over grasslands in the Dawlat Abad district of the country’s northwestern Faryab province.
According to the governor’s office, the people from the Taheri tribe in Dawlat Abad district engaged in a verbal dispute which resulted into a firefight between them, as a result of which, three people were killed in the clash from both sides.
The slain were cousins of each other and were armed with three AK-47 machine guns, which have been seized by the provincial security personnel.
This legacy, which could be termed the hidden war, should be eliminated and the related organs of the Islamic Emirate should do their best to settle all local disputes, permanently, particularly those over lands or pastures and identify those fueling such discords and disputes and bring them to justice.