Rome/Tokyo, 21 January 2002 - Peace
and long-term economic stability in Afghanistan must be built on
the restoration of productive agriculture, the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today in a statement issued
on the occasion of an international donor meeting in
"The shortest path to
national stability will be for the rural population to return to
their fields and produce the nation's food," FAO
said. Some 85 percent of Afghanistan's population is
dependent on agriculture, according to the Organization.
FAO said that US$39 million are needed this
year to improve access to food in rural and urban areas by
increasing food production and generating income by providing
basic inputs such as seeds and fertiliser.
The FAO appeal is part of the 'UN Appeal for the
Immediate and Transitional Assistance Programme for Afghanistan
for 2002', launched at the Ministerial Conference on
Afghanistan in Tokyo.
For its short-term
emergency activities, FAO is asking for US$18 million for the
distribution of seeds and fertiliser, vegetable kits to returnee
families, support to livestock through vaccinations and animal
feed, emergency preparedness against locust attacks and the
establishment of a Food Security Assessment Unit and the
coordination of emergency agricultural relief operations.
"The food security situation of
the urban and rural population remains bleak," said
Anne Bauer, FAO's focal point for Afghanistan.
"Autumn planting was seriously jeopardised by drought
and military actions. The animals of nomads are unlikely to
survive through the winter season due to feed shortages and
diseases if not vaccinated in time. Displaced farmers need seeds
and fertilisers to restart agriculture. Special attention will
have to be given to returnee families and their host communities
to facilitate a smooth reintegration process."
For medium-term activities in 2002 FAO
requested US$21 million. These development activities will focus
on the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, reforestation, seed
multiplication, the promotion of high-value crops to reduce
poppy production, veterinary services and integrated pest
"FAO will pay special
attention to the situation of women," Anne Bauer said.
"They are traditionally responsible for food
availability, family income, nutrition, health care and
education. Moreover, 20 years of civil war have left an
estimated half a million households without a male provider. The
starting point must be to identify the needs and resources
available to women."
addition, if we want farmers to give up opium production, they
need to have access to alternative crops, to credit and to
markets. The fight against poppy production can only be won if
we manage to improve the household and community welfare
especially in the rural areas."
FAO has already established an Emergency Coordination
Unit in Islamabad. After its initial aid appeal in early
August, the UN agency received US$6 million from Germany,
Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and the US. The procurement and
distribution of seeds is currently underway for the spring
planting and animal feed is also being bought.
The Department for International Development of the
United Kingdom has allocated US$2.9 million to FAO for an
integrated agricultural emergency and development programme in
Currently FAO has eight
international staff based in Islamabad and one in
Mazar-e-Sharif. Approximately 40 Afghan nationals are working
for FAO inside the country. FAO will soon re-open its office in
the common UN premises in Kabul.
For more information please call Erwin
Northoff, Media Relations Officer, 0039-06-5705 2232/3105,