ICARDA Afghanistan Country Office established in 2002
Country manager: Nigamananda Swain
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.
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).