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Arghand Cooperative

Washing Away the Opium Trade

Think of farming in Afghanistan and you probably think of one crop: opium. Over 90 percent of the world’s opium supply comes from this tiny war torn nation. Cash from that crop mostly goes to fund the Taliban and Al Qaeda, leaving Afghan workers earning a paltry $100 per month.
Arghand Cooperative
Arghand Cooperative
Social Enterprises
Washing Away the Opium Trade

Think of farming in Afghanistan and you probably think of one crop: opium. Over 90 percent of the world’s opium supply comes from this tiny war torn nation. Cash from that crop mostly goes to fund the Taliban and Al Qaeda, leaving Afghan workers earning a paltry $100 per month.

In 2002, National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Sarah Chayes tossed aside her tape recorder and dedicated herself to changing the lives of those underpaid Afghanis. “Stop talking about it already—do something,” she says her conscience told her. After cutting her teeth cleaning up a bombed-out village and running a dairy co-op, Chayes started a cooperative called Arghand.

Arghand’s dozen or so male and female workers craft soap pebbles using age-old techniques. Oprah was impressed enough to give Chayes a “Chutzpah” award. The soaps are a winner, too. Each one takes a total of six weeks to make. The result is a dense and long-lasting soap that resembles a beautiful stone polished by river water. All of the natural ingredients are painstakingly gathered from around Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan. The enterprise encourages farmers to plant crops like apricots, pomegranates, spices and herbs — instead of opium.

Arghand means “triumphant” in Persian. That’s how you’ll feel using these beautiful soaps that just might make the future of Afghanistan a little more bright and shiny.

Social Enterprises