FAO in Afghanistan

Humanitarian situation

FAO remains committed to serving the people of Afghanistan in these trying times. Providing time-critical humanitarian assistance in line with the core humanitarian principles (humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence) is FAO’s priority during this crisis. A core international team remains in Kabul to continue delivering FAO mandate. As of the end of August, FAO has directly supported nearly 2 million people across 28 provinces of Afghanistan. FAO is on track to reach a further 1.7 million people in the coming three months. However, Afghanistan’s farmers and livestock keepers need far more and urgently. This is why FAO is asking for a further USD36 for the next three months.

"Farmers and livestock owners must not be forgotten in today's humanitarian crisis. Urgent agricultural support now is key to counter the impact of the drought and a worsening situation in Afghanistan's vast rural areas in the weeks and months ahead"

FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu

Urgent priorities

  • Winter wheat season. FAO aims to assist 250 000 vulnerable farming families - some 1.5 million people - for the upcoming winter wheat season. Planting begins in late September and runs into October in many areas. However, current funding will only enable FAO to support 170 000 families.
  • This assistance package (50kg each of certified seed, DAP and urea fertilizers) enables a farming household to harvest 1.2 to 1.4 metric tonnes of wheat, which is sufficient to cover their wheat needs for a year. The total cost of the package ranges from USD 120 to USD 140. This investment generates between USD 430 and USD 500 of market value for an average wheat harvest. On average, this means from three to four-fold percent return on investment.

"This next winter wheat season is a tipping point. If we miss it, disaster looms.

Richard Trenchard, FAO Representative in Afghanistan

  • Support to livestock owners and herders affected by drought. Three million animals are estimated to be at risk, making livestock protection urgently critical for herders and livestock owners across the country.
  • FAO's assessment shows that a high percentage of marginal herders and livestock owners are at a crucial stage and unless they are supported, they may have no other option than to sell their livestock holdings due to increased fodder/feed prices and also be displaced.
  • In 2021, FAO has provided veterinary assistance to 304 225 small ruminants and 121 690 large ruminants.

In order to assist these urgent needs, FAO has asked for USD 36 million in support of its FAO's Drought Response Plan in Afghanistan. As of early September, 15 million have been pledged, leaving a shortfall of 21 million.

How is FAO supporting Afghanistan in this current crisis?

  • Keeping livestock alive - FAO is helping livestock keepers and herders to protect their animals with concentrate feed, training, cash assistance, and veterinary support.
  • Ensuring a successful winter wheat season - FAO is also delivering assistance to wheat farmers with quality seeds, fertilizers and training. Supporting the winter wheat cultivation will be crucial to prevent further deterioration of food and livelihoods security – Afghanistan is already staring at a significant wheat deficit – 25 percent according to official estimates.
  • Providing cash assistance - FAO is providing cash assistance to the most vulnerable and food insecure families headed by women or people with disabilities or elderly, which in many cases don’t even have access to land or livestock assets. This cash assistance can be lifesaving and avoid families sliding into famine as we are facing this risk now. We aim to leave no one behind.
  • Livelihood assistance focused on supporting women - Vulnerable food insecure families are also being supported with either backyard poultry rearing packages or vegetable/home gardening cultivation inputs and training to enable cultivation of vegetables for domestic consumption and some surplus for sale in local markets to generate cash incomes. 

    This support is particularly designed to assist women in need, who in many cases, according to the culture and norms, do not work out of their homes. These packages provide them with an opportunity to earn an income and improve the nutrition of their families.
  • Across all activties, FAO continues to inform people about the COVID-19 pandemic, which is far from over in Afghanistan, and in doing so supporting the steady functioning of the main agriculture and livestock/live animal markets.