Afghanistan Gets a National Seeds Secretariat

The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, HE Obaidullah Ramin, on Sunday 27 May 2007, laid the foundation stone of a National Seeds Secretariat Building at Badam Bagh in Kabul. Also present at the ceremony were the MAIL Deputy Minister, HE Mohammad Sharif, the new FAO Representative in Afghanistan, Dr. Tekeste Tekie, the EC Rural Development & Food Security Advisor, Mr. Matin Behzad, Chairman of the National Seeds Committee, Eng Mirdad Panjsheri, Advisors and senior staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, staff of the EC-funded seed project and other dignitaries.
This unique complex will be situated in close proximity to the Central Seed Testing Laboratory in Kabul and is meant to accommodate the apex institutions for coordinating seed industry functions in Afghanistan, comprising the National Seed Board and its affiliated bodies namely the Variety Release Committee, the Seed and Plant Health Inspectorate, and the Seed Certification Agency. The National Seed Board will be proclaimed upon ratification of the Seed Law that is currently under consideration by the government.

Effective coordination and regulation of the seed industry by the government and ensuring that farmers are confident about the quality of seed and planting materials they buy are crucial for the development of an effective seed industry in the country. These functions and necessary consultations between the public and the private sectors on seed matters will be facilitated by the National Seed Board, as a permanent institution with the responsibility of executing and implementing the provisions of the National Seeds Policy and the Seed Law and advising the Government on all matters relating to seed planning and development. Amongst the key functions of the National Seed Board will be the development of phyto-sanitary and plant health systems to ensure the country is able to monitor and control the movement of seeds and planting materials. The Seed Board will therefore function as the apex body in the seed sector with overall oversight for the management of the national seed programme and having autonomy and freedom to carry out its functions.

Construction of the National Seeds Secretariat will cost about US$ 310,000, which will be financed by a 10-year seeds sales revolving fund generated by seed producing partners including a local NGO, Voluntary Association for the Rehabilitation of Afghanistan (VARA), two international NGOs, Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA) and Mercy Corps (MC), and two public sector organizations, Improved Seed Enterprise (ISE) and Nangarhar Valley Development Authority (NVDA). The utilization of part of the revolving fund for this important institutional development will serve long-term needs of the farmers in Afghanistan and will help strengthen the national seed industry, the primary objective for which this fund was created.

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