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FAO Press Release 02/34

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For further information contact Erwin Northoff, Media Relations Officer, tel: 0039 06 5705 3105

Rome, 27 March - The Finance Committee of the German Parliament has approved a 7.6 million Euro aid package in support of agricultural rehabilitation carried out by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Afghanistan. It is the first time for many years that Germany, in addition to its regular contribution to the FAO budget, has pledged money in support of FAO development activities, the UN agency said in a statement issued today.

"The aid package clearly underlines Germany's intention to support a global coalition against hunger, as suggested by the German President, Johannes Rau, in his speech on World Food Day last year. It is also an important acknowledgement by Germany of FAO's emergency activities," said FAO Assistant Director-General Henri Carsalade.

Germany will contribute to a seed distribution project in Northern Afghanistan. Poor families in remote areas will receive local cereal, legume and vegetable seeds and fertilisers to resume agricultural production.

Germany will also participate in a seed multiplication programme. In past years, improved seed varieties were multiplied by contract farmers and exchanged for food grain through a food-for-seed programme. Procuring seeds directly from farmers contributed to local skills as well as increased seed production and the adoption of new seeds, FAO said.

Past FAO seed multiplication projects successfully contributed to the reduction in the cultivation of opium poppy by farmers, FAO said.

About one half of the irrigated farming area in Afghanistan has gone out of use as a result of a breakdown of irrigation systems, FAO said. Substantial assistance is required to start and carry forward the rehabilitation of the collapsed irrigation infrastructure. Germany will finance the rehabilitation of community-based small-scale irrigation facilities. This will include training for national institutions focusing on water management.

Livestock production is a key activity for rural communities to generate income, particularly for women. Germany will contribute to an FAO project on poultry production. FAO will assist women-headed families to increase backyard poultry production. FAO will also support the development of semi-commercial poultry production around urban centres. In addition, cattle farmers will receive assistance to develop milk production for sale.

Germany will also support an assessment mission to Afghanistan by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System, as well as the monitoring of the household food security situation, especially regarding the nutritional status of vulnerable groups such as women and children.

Germany is also in favour of holding an international meeting on food security and the right to adequate food and an expert consultation on the international transfers of contaminating agents. For this purpose, an additional 900,000 Euro have been earmarked.

FAO's support to Afghanistan is covered by the Early Agricultural Rehabilitation Strategy, recently presented by FAO to the Government Authority in Aghanistan. The Strategy outlines a framework for addressing the key priorities for the agricultural sector in Afghanistan in the immediate two-three years period. The implementation of the Strategy will require US$202 million to cover the needs in the various agricultural sub-sectors, including crop production, animal health, irrigation and capacity building.

Germany is FAO's third largest contributor and covers around 10 percent of the agency's regular budget.

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