FAO in Afghanistan

Japan gives USD 10 million for improving irrigation infrastructure and better on-farm water management


Japan gives USD 10 million for improving irrigation infrastructure and better on-farm water management


            Another new project agreement on improving Afghanistan’s agriculture was signed at the Embassy of Japan in Kabul between the Government of Japan and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) this week.

This new, USD 10 million, project is entitled “The Project for Enhancing Rural Livelihoods through Improved Irrigation Facilities in Bamyan, Kabul, and Kapisa Provinces.” The project builds on three earlier irrigation rehabilitation and hydropower projects in these provinces, which ran from 2010 to early 2017. In these three earlier projects, 180  000 ha of land were served by improved irrigation structures, and micro-hydropower generators were built that still are providing power to approximately  35 000 rural people. This water and power supply has helped families grow gardens, parents cook healthy foods, and children do their homework long into the evening. The new project will be implemented by FAO in close collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW).

Japan has a long history of investing in Afghanistan across many sectors, especially in agriculture. Japan has an equally long history of partnerships with FAO, which have covered a wide range of topics, from livestock disease to water management to improving value chains. In this newest project, more than 16 000 farming families are expected to benefit from improved irrigation infrastructure for 7000 ha of land, as well as from better water management knowledge. To do this, the project will rehabilitate, modernize and extend approximately 190 km of irrigation canals, and local water managers (mirabs) and water users will be trained on how to best manage the water so as to get the largest possible crops in what is often a very dry terrain.

The signing ceremony for the event was held on 29 October 2018 at the Embassy of Japan and was attended by H.E. Mr. Mitsuji Suzuka, Ambassador of Japan, Mr. Rajendra Aryal, FAO Representative (FAOR) in Afghanistan, H.E. Mohammad Gul Khulmi, Acting Minister of Energy and Water as well as Embassy staff, FAO staff and the press. H.E. Mr. Suzuka remarked that “it is clear that if water resources are managed and used in a better manner, undoubtedly more agricultural products can be obtained. Without the development and stability of the agricultural sector, the development of Afghanistan will be very difficult.” Mr. Aryal further noted that decades of war and migration away from rural areas have left much of the country’s irrigation systems in a poor state, and when irrigation suffers, so do the farmers that depend on it for their food and livelihoods. As Afghanistan is currently suffering from a devastating drought that is causing massive food insecurity this year, Mr. Aryal added that he was “very happy that Japan is supporting another well-devised water management project during such a time of great need for exactly this sort of work.”

In addition to signing the agreement, the ceremony also locally launched the new FAO + Japan: A report on partnership 2016-2017, available at http://www.fao.org/3/I8466EN/i8466en.pdf. This report, produced by FAO with important support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan highlights work done in Afghanistan and around the world through close Japanese-FAO partnerships.