Inception of Afghanistan's new seed project
Kabul, March 12, 2007 (FAO): An Inception Workshop marking the official launching of a new five-year seed project with funding of Euro 10 million from the European Commission was opened today in Kabul. Present at the ceremony were high ranking officials of the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Mr. Matin Bezhad (representing EC), and Mr. Andrew Weir, Acting FAO Representative in Afghanistan.
The workshop brings together a large audience of over 100 participants representing different stakeholders from across the country. This level of interest reflects the importance the stakeholders place upon the pressing issue of providing farmers with good seed of the important staple crops to enhance agricultural productivity and improve food security.
During the workshop, the programme of work for the project will be presented and discussed with all stakeholders including donor representatives, International Agricultural Research Centers, government partners, partner NGOs, private enterprises, dealers and farmers. The objective is to allow participants to express their views to enable the staff to take these views into consideration in the preparation of the operational plan of the project. This participatory approach is designed to ensure proper understanding of the project by all and to establish close cooperation and collaboration with the stakeholders right from the outset.
Over the next five years, the project will seek to achieve key outputs including developing new and better varieties of crops for cultivation in the major agro-ecological zones nationwide, making high quality early generation seed of new varieties available for further multiplication into larger seed quantities for distribution to farmers, establishing new institutional arrangements for effective regulation of the seed industry functions through a Seed Law and a National Seeds Policy, and exploring ways of putting in place an appropriate system for commercializing certified seeds to farmers through an efficient private sector.
It is hoped that at the end of this 5-year period the project would have an effective impact on the formulation of the policy and regulatory reforms that are necessary to support efficient seed markets, to increase the willingness of farmers to pay for certified seed, to ensure that new varieties become widely available and to establish a well-regulated seed industry with producers and buyers abiding by the Seed Policy and Seed Law.
To achieve these results, the Ministry of Agriculture will take an active and leading role in providing strong policy and regulatory support, and harness effective linkages with research, extension and technology transfer. The project will support these developments by raising the capacity of its Ministry of Agriculture counterparts to a high level.
This new project is a part of FAOâ€™s continued commitment in supporting Afghan farmers in their fight against poverty and hunger. It will promote the sustainable supply of quality seed and assist the Ministry to contribute further to the provision of licit alternatives to the growing of opium poppy in many areas of the country.