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Afghanistan

Field day in Afghanistan

 

ICARDA Afghanistan Country Office established in 2002 

Country manager: Nigamananda Swain 

 

Overview

ICARDA’s work in Afghanistan is made possible through the support of MAIL under sub-component 2.3 of the Community Livestock and Agriculture Project with fund support from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), CGIAR Research Program on WHEAT, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM), and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

  

For two decades, Afghanistan’s rural development plans have been supported by ICARDA in the provision of seeds and new crop varieties, improvement of land and water management, the introduction of new agricultural production technologies and farming practices, and enterprise building for rural communities, with a special focus on women’s empowerment.  

Afghanistan covers an area of 65.3 million ha of steep and harsh mountainous land not conducive to farming. The availability of land and water resources for agricultural production is limited and marginal at best. Overgrazing, land tenure issues, conversion of rangelands into rain-fed cropping systems, and climate change, including drought, have caused widespread rangeland degradation. Yet, agriculture is the main livelihood that provides resilience to poor farmers and is a major contributor to the fragile Afghan economy. 

About 8 million farmers depend entirely on a crop-livestock system for their livelihoods, but insufficient feed production and availability is the key constraint for the livestock sector. The lack of forage of sufficient quality limits productivity, which is even worse during drought.  

 

Activities: 

ICARDA collaborates with National Agriculture Research Systems partners, along with national and international research institutions, the private sector, and the farmers themselves on: 

  • Crop improvement: food crops, legumes, forage and fodder crops, and vegetables.  

  • Natural resource management: watershed management, conservation agriculture, soil and water conservation technologies, and supplemental irrigation.  

  • Geo-informatics: long-term climatic data, hydrological data.  

  • Small ruminants: ‘pass on the gift’ goat management and distribution scheme, restocking livestock and preventive animal health which brings income directly to women, and has the unique potential to inject income in remote rural communities. 

  • Capacity development: youth and women, farmer field schools, in-country and out-of-country training, mentoring, and know-how transfer.  

  • Entrepreneurship: village-based seed enterprises (VBSEs), public-private-partnership on seed certification, value addition, and greenhouse cultivation (off-season vegetables).  

 

Impact

  • ICARDA pilot projects have encouraged the creation of nearly 1,000 light-structure greenhouses.  

  • Working with local partners, ICARDA has trained 6,500 women in the areas of small enterprise development, kitchen gardening, farming practices, sheep and goat production and quality seed multiplication.  

  • The ‘pass on the gift’ scheme of goat rearing brings income directly to women and has the unique potential to inject income in remote rural communities.  

  • ICARDA and FAO supported the Afghan Government in the creation of 135 VBSEs with mentoring, training and technical backstopping. Three VBSEs have become viable commercial enterprises.  

  • Three VBSEs are 100% women-owned and four have female managing partners. These informal local enterprises form a national network that provides 90% of Afghanistan’s wheat seed supply. 

  • A total of 7,500 technical and operational staff in agricultural line agencies and farmers have been trained in farming policies and practices, 2,500 of these were government staff.  

Innovations in Afghanistan

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