FAO in Afghanistan

Signing Ceremony of the Project for “Enhancing Agriculture Production through Irrigation System Improvement and Strengthening Institutional Capacity”


The Government of Japan, through the technical assistance of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock (MAIL) of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, has announced a new project to boost agricultural livelihood production and resilience through improved irrigation management in Afghanistan.

The project, approximately worth US$ 13.52 million, will train government officials in the Peace Medical Services (PMS) methodology in order to extend its applications to a larger community. The project will also directly benefit some nine thousand farming families through increased rice production in the targeted provinces of Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan.

The Exchange of Note, the Grant Agreement and the Project Document titled "Enhancing Agriculture Production through Irrigation System Improvement and Strengthening Institutional Capacity" were signed at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) by Mr. Yasunari Morino, chargé d'affaires ad interim of the Embassy of Japan, Mr. Eiichiro Cho, Chief Representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Afghanistan Office and Mr. Tomio Shichiri, the FAO Representative in Afghanistan with the witness of H. E. Assadullah Zamir, Minister of MAIL.

One of the major problems in irrigation system of Afghanistan is lack of appropriate water control infrastructures, which do not include any permanent structures for water conveyance, distribution and water intake structures. With such infrastructures, adequacy, reliability and timeliness of irrigation water services are hardly secured, which largely affect crop production.

This project is comprised of three main components: i) Dissemination of Peace Medical Services (PMS) irrigation method which has been developed in Nangarhar province and training of government staff and farmers on PMS approach through construction of training center, ii) Rehabilitation of irrigation systems in rice-growing areas of Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan provinces and iii) Establishment of basic mechanisms and capacities for production of high quality virus free potato seeds.

In addition to revitalizing irrigations systems by components i) and ii), the project will focus by its component iii) on fighting diseases that affect potato production. Through the establishment of a functional tissue-culture laboratory, and training of MAIL staff in virus-free potato seed production, the project will contribute to increasing potato seed production leading to more opportunities for decent work in the agriculture sector. 224,200 families (Approximately 1.5 million people) are expected to benefit from these activities over the longer term period.

The project will be implemented in synergy with other on-going programmes and projects supporting irrigation and extension sectors, as well as food security and nutrition policy in Afghanistan.

"Irrigation marks the difference between no food or abundant food. Performance of agriculture largely depends on water availability and access. Investment in irrigation and in agriculture provides a unique opportunity in Afghanistan to facilitate economic growth, increasing rural employment and enhance food security in rural areas," said Mr. Assadullah Zamir, Afghanistan's Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL). "This support is in line with MAIL's National Irrigation Programme (NIP), as well as with FAO's Country Programme Framework (CPF). Development of irrigation in Afghanistan will continue to be a key priority to increase agriculture productivity and incomes and to support rural livelihoods."

"If we, the Japanese NGO - PMS and JICA, Afghan MAIL, MRRD and MEW, and FAO seriously work together, we can duplicate the miracle of Gamberi, which will surely lead to better life of the people, social stability and economic development," said Mr. Yasunari Morino, chargé d'affaires ad interim of the Embassy of Japan.

"We are extremely grateful to Japan for having steadily continued its support to Afghan farmers on the ground level," said Mr. Tomio Shichiri, the FAO Representative in Afghanistan. "Rice and potato are Afghanistan's the most important crops, followed by wheat. These two crops have more potential for improving agriculture productivity and by creating larger opportunities for raising farmers' incomes. Production of high quality virus-free potato seed will directly support efforts to export to neighboring countries, which thereby reduces rural poverty and builds resilience of communities in this country."

Japan has been assisting Afghanistan's nation-building efforts in various fields including security, education, health, culture, humanitarian assistance, agriculture, infrastructure and its capacity development. The cumulative Japanese assistance to Afghanistan since 2001 amounts to USD 5.87 billion.