Urban Agriculture in Kabul, Afghanistan

Nutrient cycling and nutrient use efficiency in urban agriculture of Kabul, Afghanistan

Project duration: 2008-2011
Project scientist: Zirkrullah Safi

It is hypothesized that UA in Kabul operates under economically viable but ecologically critical conditions, leading to substantial gaseous nutrient emissions and contamination risks for ground water and UA-derived produce. This project therefore aims at an analysis of UA activities in the capital city of Kabul, Afghanistan and the quantification of its nutrient flows and resource use efficiencies. To fill this gap of knowledge horizontal and vertical flows of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and organic carbon (Corg) will be determined in different types of UA crop and livestock enterprises with special emphasis on their seasonal and spatial variation. Pollution of the environment and of produce that might originate from inappropriate use of inputs in UA (such as heavy metals and pathogens from wastewater) will also be examined. The data obtained will be compared to the results from similar studies on-going in different West African cities which are conducted in the working groups of Prof. Dr. Andreas Bürkert (Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and Subtropics) and Prof. Dr. Eva Schlecht (Animal Husbandry in the Tropics and Subtropics), University of Kassel (Germany). Cross-location analyses and comparisons of results will broaden the scientific understanding of the UA problems under study and facilitate the development of efficient solutions to the likely bottlenecks in nutrient use efficiency and product safety. The ultimate aims of this research are (i) to reduce nutrient losses by closing nutrient cycles and increasing nutrient use efficiencies and (ii) to explore options for a reduced contamination with pathogens, pesticides and heavy metals by a more careful use of wastewater and increased reliance on organic approaches of food production.