Afghanistan: new initiative on rainfed agricultureDecember 31, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
The government of Afghanistan has launched a major new effort to strengthen rainfed agriculture. H.E. Asif Rahimi, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, outlined the proposals at Afghanistan’s first International Workshop on Dryland Farming, held in Kabul, 18-20 December. “This is much more than a workshop,” the Minister said. “It is the first of many events that signify a permanent and dramatic change in Afghan agricultural policy. Today, we pledge to make a strong investment in – and a permanent commitment to – dryland farming.” The Minister outlined recent achievements as well as future plans. New crop varieties, introduced through partnerships with ICARDA and other international research centers, are being tested and promoted in several provinces. R&D programs are being established or expanded in several areas including medicinal plants, fodder production, and soil and water management. Two new dryland research stations – the first in the country – will be established. Credit availability has been greatly improved, and a new government agency will make it easier for farmers to lease government land.
The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock in collaboration with ICARDA, with funding from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). There were more than 200 participants including the country’s top decision makers in agriculture and representatives from the donor community and international organizations. ICARDA was represented by Dr Javed Rizvi, Country Program Manager, Afghanistan, and three Research Program Directors (Drs Michael Baum, Theib Oweis and Rachid Serraj), who presented technologies, developed jointly by ICARDA and its partners, that could be applied in Afghanistan. Experts from national research organizations in Iran and Turkey also highlighted results from partnerships with ICARDA. Minister Rahimi strongly commended the Afghanistan-ICARDA collaborative program, and urged it be expanded further, to generate even greater benefits for Afghan farmers.