What is pom 354 all about?


POM354 is the brainchild of James Brett, whose unusual life has exposed him both to the miseries of drug use and to the potential of the pomegranate fruit. After a very troubled childhood and youth, James became the successful entrepreneur behind Pomegreat, Britain's leading pomegranate juice.

POM354's primary aim is to assist Afghan farmers in their move from poppy cultivation to a sustainable alternative livelihood. The objective is to alter circumstances in rural Afghanistan that will enable the (re)creation of a stable and fair market for pomegranate products.

James Brett's personality, commitment, and drive have led to already extraordinary progress. After his well documented stroll into an Afghan poppy field in early 2007, he has achieved rapidly increasing support, organized two meetings with tribal elders and secured the full cooperation of the people of three eastern Afghan provinces (Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar) to back his pomegranate initiative.

The initial response in the developed world to the POM354 initiative has confirmed that many are in support of the project and willing to directly support farmers, and their families, in Afghanistan. POM354 will create a new and legitimate commerce, free from the extortion and intimidation of the illegal drug trade.

Much money is needed to succeed in this effort, and needed urgently. The farmers and their families need to plan with confidence to plant pomegranate trees now, not to plant poppy, and to be promised, in return for their full commitment and supportive effort, an income during the years that the trees will take to grow to maturity.

During the initial five year development period, the funding will also provide the means to improve infrastructure, provide storage and processing facilities, and develop the market for pomegranate products. The latter will done by businesses linked to POM354. When their trees mature, farmers will be able to sell their produce, and pricing projections confirm that the value of their harvest will handsomely exceed what they receive for poppies today.

A relatively small investment by a few major donors to Afghanistan will ensure a substantial and positive impact on a large number of rural beneficiaries in Afghanistan, who would otherwise be forced by economics once again to plant poppy.

Gradually, over a three year period, POM354 hopes to replace most of the donor country funding by donations and support from individuals, groups, and commercial sources. This will help to create a better understanding and, hopefully, strong ties with the struggling farm communities in Afghanistan.