GLOBALink | China-built canal from 1970s still vital for Afghan farmers
CHARIKAR, Afghanistan, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Mohammad Yusuf Azimi, 58, a villager from eastern Afghanistan's Parwan province, began growing beans on his two hectares of land in late February.
Following generations of bean planting, Azimi's family witnessed its rapid development from the get-go.
Life for local residents here, however, used to be filled with bitter tears. Although located near the midstream of the Panjshir River, one of Afghanistan's longest rivers, the locals suffered from drought and thus large swathes of land were left uncultivated due to the lack of irrigation systems.
"In the past, the people here had faced huge water shortages in farming their lands and we only cultivated once a year," Azimi told Xinhua.
To advance bilateral friendship and boost local economic development, a water canal project in Parwan, built by China and provided as aid to Afghanistan, was put into use in the 1970s.
The Chinese-initiated project irrigated thousands of hectares of farmland in Parwan and neighboring Kapisa and Kabul provinces, said local people.
"Fortunately, since the China-built canal was put into use, we can harvest three times a year and even plant vegetables in winter," Azimi said.
Recalling his fond memories from the time when the canal was built, Azimi said that he was just seven years old when the work on the canal began.
"The Chinese engineers were very kind to the locals, particularly to the children," Azimi said softly. "Whenever they drove by the village, they would get out of their car, pat us on the head and give us some gifts."
Echoing Azimi, another farmer Qalandar, 55, thanked neighboring China for building the water canal and boosting agricultural production in Parwan province, saying the canal has helped people enhance their agricultural output.
Qalandar was 10 years old when the canal project began and his father joined the construction team as a worker.
"My father always told us stories of how the Chinese engineers helped us, praised their professional technology and constantly reminded us that it is the Chinese who had helped us in building this canal," Qalandar said.
Describing the China-built canal as vital for the development of Parwan province's agricultural sector, Mujib Rahman Habibi, head of department for Ghorband-Charikar sub-river basin, said that the canal, besides providing potable water to 32,000 families, also irrigates thousands of hectares of land.
"This is a very important canal as it provides drinking water to the people in Parwan, facilitates farmers in irrigating their lands and makes fishing farms," Habibi told Xinhua in his office.
"We are grateful to China for the construction of this canal."
Produced by Xinhua Global Service