The US Government reportedly spent a whopping $34.4M to get Afghans to eat soybeans at taxpayer expense.
In spite of Afghan’s rich culinary options, the newly added soybean a la carte was widely rejected by the local palate.
A Fortune Spent on Getting Afghans to Eat Soy
The harsh Afghan climate and terrain were deemed unsuitable for soy cultivation by agronomists who had their warnings ignored by officials.
A string of crop failures after the first season’s lackluster harvest ultimately led farmers to abandon soy altogether. A $1.5M factory designed to manage local soy production failed to stay afloat after poor crop yields.
Over the four years (2010-2014) in which the program was launched, virtually zero progress was made to make soy a viable crop in the Central Asian country.
In what was called a “risky but honorable endeavor” by the project’s manager, its supposed intention was to raise the average malnourished Afghan’s protein consumption.
One of the soy-based foods was a naan bread called “Strong Naan.”
And the rejection of the artificially promoted crop was distilled by the fact that Afghans, as a whole, didn’t like the taste of soy or processed food.
The initiative was partly inspired within the $120B budget to reconstruct the country. However, in 2011, it was later discovered there was a total misspend of $7B in the region.
“We didn’t have a reconstruction effort, we just spent a lot of money, mostly to get the Afghan military working and keep its government afloat,” Middle East specialist and former defense intelligence analyst, Anthony H. Cordesman, pointed out.
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