29 May 2003, Rome/Kabul --
Long-term agricultural development activities in Afghanistan are
under threat unless urgently needed donor funds are provided,
FAO warned today.
"We are facing
a potential funding gap of around
$25 million," said Manfred Staab, FAO
Programme Manager for Afghanistan.
"We are afraid that political events in other
parts of the world are forcing donors to redirect scarce funds
away from Afghanistan."
"Since 11 September 2001, FAO has received
around $40 million for rehabilitating agriculture and
regenerating rural areas in Afghanistan. Much of these funds
were for emergency activities such as distribution of seeds,
tools, fertilizers and locust control, but we have also made
solid investments in long-term rehabilitation," Staab
"We are now seriously
concerned about the lack of new funding commitments for
long-term agricultural development projects."
Major achievements at
additional amount of $25 million, we will have to stop more than
70 percent of our activities by the end of this year. This would
have serious repercussions on the farming communities we are now
helping and would prevent us from assisting more
farmers," Staab said.
"All our achievements, with the exception of
FAO's fully-funded involvement in the seed sector, would be
jeopardized. We would lose the results of about two years of our
mass of investment is urgently needed - otherwise we shall lose
the momentum," Staab said. "We can only gain
the confidence of Afghani farmers in the long-term development
of rural areas if we now build upon what we have achieved during
the emergency phase."
projects include seed production, the cultivation and marketing
of fruits and vegetables, livestock vaccination campaigns and
veterinary services, the rehabilitation of destroyed irrigation
systems and the strengthening of fragile government services
over the next years.
for several hundred thousand farmers
FAO has become a strong player in supporting farmers
with seed delivery and multiplication, animal production and
health services, milk production and marketing projects,
successful poultry raising projects for women and the
rehabilitation of irrigation systems. Several hundred thousand
farmers have profited from these projects over the past years,
according to the UN agency.
addition, we have helped to build up and strengthen local and
national agricultural government institutions," Staab
"Our main objective is that
the Afghanis should finally run their own institutions and play
the leading role in restructuring agriculture. FAO, for example,
is in the process of moving its offices to government premises
in Kabul and major cities to ensure that we are in close contact
with the people who will be finally responsible. We are also
providing them with training on the job."
FAO staff in Afghanistan includes 275 national and 30
international experts. A special network covering all parts of
the country provides services even in remote areas.
Donors supporting FAO's activities in Afghanistan
have been Belgium, the European Commission, Germany, Ireland,
Italy, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, the United
Kingdom and the United States.
FAO is now
strongly encouraging donors to provide funding for its
development activities in Afghanistan.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570