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Arghand Cooperative

Washing Away the Opium Trade

Think of farming in Afghanistan and you probably think of one crop: opium poppy. More than 90% of the world’s opium supply comes from this tiny war-torn nation. Competing with the opium industry isn’t easy, but Sarah Chayes is encouraging farmers in southern Afghanistan to plant crops like apricots, pomegranates, and almonds instead. These legendary fruits of the Kandahar region are used to produce all natural skincare products through a cooperative called Arghand. Arghand was started by Sarah, a former National Public Radio reporter, in 2005. Its signature soap pebbles are crafted using age-old techniques. Each one takes six weeks to make. The result is a dense and long-lasting soap that resembles a beautiful stone polished by river water.
Arghand Cooperative
Social Enterprises
Washing Away the Opium Trade

Think of farming in Afghanistan and you probably think of one crop: opium poppy. More than 90% of the world’s opium supply comes from this tiny war-torn nation. Competing with the opium industry isn’t easy, but Sarah Chayes is encouraging farmers in southern Afghanistan to plant crops like apricots, pomegranates, and almonds instead. These legendary fruits of the Kandahar region are used to produce all natural skincare products through a cooperative called Arghand. Arghand was started by Sarah, a former National Public Radio reporter, in 2005. Its signature soap pebbles are crafted using age-old techniques. Each one takes six weeks to make. The result is a dense and long-lasting soap that resembles a beautiful stone polished by river water.

In the years since Sarah started Arghand, conditions in Afghanistan have remained unimaginably challenging. There had been talk of folding, but instead of giving up, Arghand is expanding, launching new skincare products to complement its soap pebbles. The new products include Desert Fields Body Lotion and Hydrating Antioxidant Face Cream, both of which blend wild pistachio oil with cold-pressed pomegranate seed oil and the distinctive perfume of Artemisia persica. There’s also Essence of Rose Face Cream, which is made by drenching fresh rose petals in sweet almond oil, and Anisette Lip Balm, which combines anise oil with almond, apricot and pomegranate oils.

Arghand means “triumphant” in Persian — and the cooperative’s survival in such a perilous place is truly a triumph. It’s an inspiration to supporters near and far, including Connie Moralez, whose husband, Staff Sergeant Christopher Neal Piper, died from injuries sustained in Afghanistan in 2005. “I live every day trying to do something to make things better somehow in Afghanistan,” Connie says. “I buy small quantities of soap to give to people I think would be interested in helping to make Afghanistan a better place to live.”

Social Enterprises