FAO Director-General QU Dongyu will address the High-Level Event on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

FAO remains on the ground in Afghanistan. Millions of people in rural areas depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and food security

On 13 September, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, will address a High-Level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan.

The High-Level Meeting is being convened by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in Geneva to highlight the Afghanistan's acute needs and draw attention to the need for urgent funding support.

The Event will be held in English and be livestreamed on UN Web TV. It will take place in a hybrid format, combining limited participation in Geneva with a virtual platform.

FAO's views and work in Afghanistan:

DEEPENING CRISIS. Millions of people in rural Afghanistan depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and household food security. 

  • 70% of all Afghans live in rural areas; agriculture generates 25.5% of GDP, directly employs 45% of the workforce and provides livelihoods benefits (direct + indirect) to 80% of the population.  

HUNGER. Food insecurity and threats to rural livelihoods have been a growing concern for months.

  • The last IPC analysis (March-May) found that 1 in 3 Afghans are acutely food insecure: 14 million people.

WINTER WHEAT SEASON. The unfolding situation is causing new disruptions - cash availability, markets, the availability of agricultural inputs, credit and labor - threatening Afghanistan's critical upcoming winter wheat season.  

  • Over half of an average Afghan's daily caloric intake comes from wheat. 
  • Most of the wheat grown in the country is sourced to this upcoming rainfed winter season.

WE CAN'T WAIT. The window of opportunity to assist farmers for the fast-approaching winter wheat season is narrow and time bound. Seeds can't wait. Farmers can't wait. We must scale up support now.

  • FAO's standard wheat cultivation package (high-quality certified seeds, fertilizers, and training) can generate enough wheat to meet the cereal needs of an average household for an entire year. 

KEEPING LIVESTOCK ALIVE. Keeping farmers in their fields and livestock owners with their herds will be key to preventing deepening crisis and cascading humanitarian needs.

  • To keep livestock healthy and productive, vulnerable herders urgently need concentrate animal feed, veterinary care for their animals, and training in health and feeding best practices. 

DROUGHT, MALNUTRITION AND DISPLACEMENT. In addition to wheat, Afghanistan's entire agricultural sector is reeling from a severe and ongoing drought. 7.3 million people who rely on agriculture and livestock have been badly affected. Drought now affects 25 out of 34 provinces. 

  • The collapse of agriculture will lead to increased malnutrition, more displacement and increases in acute humanitarian caseloads and needs.
  • Without urgent support, farmers and pastoralists could lose their livelihoods and be forced to leave rural areas, adding further pressure to urban and peri urban areas as internally displaced people (IDPs).  The costs of assistance to IDPs are much higher than assisting them at their place of origin. 

RURAL CRISIS. While the airport and movements into and out of the country have rightfully been a focus over the past 2 weeks, we can't lose sight of rural communities, which are more remote and difficult to access but where the situation is relatively calm and opportunities for scaling up support are growing. FAO remains on the ground in Afghanistan and delivering in rural areas to meet rising needs, but more resources are required. 

  • As of August 2021, FAO has provided livelihood and cash assistance across 26 out of 34 provinces to over 1.5 million people. In August alone, FAO has reached over 200,000 people
  • FAO enjoys long-established relationships with a network of partners and financial institutions in Afghanistan as well as with at-risk communities themselves.
  • Despite the fluidity of the current situation, FAO has been able to continue operations in 28 out of the 31 provinces where we work. Afghanistan has 34 provinces. 
  • We hope to provide support to more than 1 million people in farming and livestock owning families in the coming few weeks.

Photo:©FAO/Farshad Usyan
A farmer in Afghanistan.