Eighty-three percent is a majority, a plurality, a number you'd pay attention to in a financial report, report card or political poll.
Eighty-three percent of Afghanistan's economy is agriculture based. This means the country's wellbeing is dependent on the land, and what they can produce from it.
Every country starts out this way. We started out this way. The economic ladder begins with food and production of it, and from there it is meant to grow into prominence and prosperity.
But countries like Afghanistan are unable to do this.
In Afghanistan, a country that for the last 60 years has spent more time in war than out, a sustainable and efficient agricultural sector has never been fully developed. And a country cannot survive if it cannot feed itself.
Roots of Peace is committed to transforming agriculture so that 83 percent is profitable, useful and self-sustaining. We're doing the same in Vietnam, Croatia, and most recently, Bethlehem.
Our process begins with the removal of landmines and other barriers left by war. Landmines outlast any occupation, or conflict. They can be dormant for 10 or 20 years, and all it takes is the weight of a newborn child to make them go off.
Most of us would never dream of working in a field that could have mines buried in it. But many farmers have to. Because if they don't their families don't eat.
We're not trying to get you down -- we all hear countless sad stories. More importantly, we've had real successes, and highlighting these is a much better way to get you excited about our work. These are just some of the things we've done in the last 16 years to make a difference:
- Over 100,000 landmines have been extracted.
- Over 40,000 Pomegranates have been planted. 40,000!
- We're in the opium business too, but not in the way you're thinking. We're the anti-Walter White. Farmers are seeing a 300 percent income increase by growing fruit and nut crops instead of opium. From 1,200 to 4,000. Take that, Heisenberg.
- New markets created for Afghan products in Dubai, Europe, Canada and Pakistan
- Making real strides in the fight for women's rights all around the world, giving women the tools they need to run their own farms and businesses.
We love these stats because they actually show how much of a difference we're making. It's satisfying. We rarely get that same kind of satisfaction out of news reports from Afghanistan or Bethlehem.
We're turning mines to vines that truly build roots of peace. We're making farmland usable and profitable again. We're rebuilding major marketplaces that are the center of commerce for towns, and yield major profits for farmers.
We have a business model for peace, and it's working.
But there is still so much to do. For the next six weeks, we're crowdfunding our fundraising efforts, and asking friends to donate. You may even see some familiar faces helping us over the next six weeks -- from baseball players to winemakers.
We won't lie, there is a bit of a competition here. We're competing with 30 other organizations, and the more we fundraise, the better prizes we (you and Roots of Peace) receive!
Many thanks again to the Skoll Foundation and the Huffington Post for getting this campaign off the ground and running!