The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has launched an initiative to nurture industrial activity in northern Afghanistan so that local residents can earn regular income in a bid to prevent them from joining extremist groups, it has been learned.

The “one village, one product” program is aimed at helping eradicate the conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban by establishing local industries.

The program covers the Balkh, Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces.

Specialty goods from the areas such as nuts, fruits and colorful and embroidered fabrics are difficult to export to customers abroad without support.

JICA plans to assist local businesses in collaboration with Felissimo Corp., a major mail-order company based in Kobe, which has previously helped similar production efforts in developing nations.

In the first step of the program, a three-day inspection tour through Thursday took place at a garment plant and an agricultural processing factory in Khatlon province, in southern Tajikistan, located close to the four Afghan provinces where fierce fighting continues.

Khatlon has almost the same industries and cultures as the four Afghan regions.

“We’d like to invite residents in the four provinces to the Tajik side and give them guidance,” a senior official from the JICA Afghanistan office said. “We hope it (the project) will lead to job creation.”

Tatsuya Kasai, a 42-year-old executive officer of Felissimo, who joined the inspection tour, said, “Amid the global trend of mass production, products that have unique features are needed.”

“Although there are many problems, including in logistics and quality, we want to help existing products sell better,” he added.

Many young people in Afghanistan join the Taliban due to poverty and a lack of employment. Also, a lot of young people are employed in the cultivation of poppies, which are used to make opium — a major funding source for the Taliban.

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