New Zealand fund to support Afghan farmers: FAO

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said that New Zealand is funding a $2 million project of the organization to provide humanitarian assistance in the form of agricultural inputs and cash assistance to 94,500 vulnerable rural people from farming communities in Afghanistan.

Farmers of the provinces of Kunduz, Nangarhar, Parwan and Wardak will benefit from the funding.

“We welcome New Zealand’s first ever contribution to FAO emergency and resilience programme at this critical point in time for Afghanistan. Farmers need quality seed in hand to plant in early spring and secure their harvest this year. New Zealand’s support will help make this happen,” said Richard Trenchard, FAO Representative in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Afghan farmers claim their products have been decreased for many reasons including lack of water and quality seeds.

“We are facing many problems now. No person or agency has helped us until now,” said Mohammad Gul, a farmer.

“Not enough water is available. We face drought. Our farms have been ruined due to lack of water,” said Abdullah, a farmer.

The farmers urged the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock to help them by providing facilities to irrigate their fields.

Officials said the ministry is working on long-term projects to aid Afghan farmers.

“The ministry has long-term plans. We plan to construct some canals and dams for farmers,” said Mesbahuddin Mostaeen, ministry spokesman.

FAO further said that it will assist 49, 000 from marginal and vulnerable farming households in northeastern Afghanistan with a spring and summer cultivation package and 45,500 people will benefit either through cash for work or unconditional transfers or cash assistance.

In recent years, the Afghan government has promoted a new style of farming to attract more investment in the agriculture sector in the country.

However, the new commercial farming style is not widely used in the country and has not attracted significant investment in the agriculture sector until now.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) said it has established many commercial farms on nearly 10 thousand hectares of land in many parts of the country, utilizing the ministry’s national farming and gardening program.

“These programs were not executed wisely. If they had been, it would have raised the farmers’ and garden owners’ income and it could have standardized farming in the country,” said Mumtaz Karokhail, a member of the Paktia provincial council.

Commercial farming is considered the means to improve the export of fresh and dry fruits in the country.

Each commercial farm lies on nearly 4 hectares of land.

The commercial farms yield 10 times more than the conventional farms, said officials in the Agriculture Ministry.

“More than a thousand gardens have been grown across the country, which includes gardens of pomegranate, pistachio, and other fruits,” said Agriculture Ministry spokesman Akbar Rustami.

Experts say that international customers are interested in Afghanistan’s fresh and dry fruits, therefore the Afghan private sector intends to invest billions of dollars in establishing commercial farms in the country.

“The government should put more effort into developing and growing more commercial farms, as it can change people’s lives in villages,” said Esmatullah Ishaq, an expert in economics.

As more than 50% of the Afghanistan population work in agriculture, this sector plays a significant role in the development of the country’s economy.—Reuters

 

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