Improved Wheat Seeds and Fertilizers Distribution and Community Development in Afghanistan – A success story

Afghanistan is prone to disasters: drought, floods, earthquake for the main ones. Afghanistan has faced in 2006, a food crisis due to inadequate rainfall during the spring season. The drought conditions affected up to an estimated 2.5 million people living in mostly rainfed agro-ecological zones. In 2007, crops in eighteen provinces were affected by the spring floods. Further, it is estimated that 6.5 million people are seasonally or chronically food insecure around the country, meaning that they do not have access to the necessary food requirements. The food insecure areas’ communities are also threatened by the returning refugee farmer families to these areas as well as the displaced populations.
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In 2005, the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) has supported the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in a project targeting almost 20 000 vulnerable farming families by the distribution of quality declared wheat seed and fertilizer packages allowing the beneficiaries to restart small-scale agricultural activities. The improved wheat seed, provided through national seed suppliers, is certified by FAO in terms of quality. The improved seed varieties distributed allowed the average beneficiary family to reach food self-sufficiency, cover seed needs and production costs and produce enough surpluses for sale for additional income. Though agriculture kits are not a food security panacea, they provide a targeted population with inputs to enhance food production. With good quality wheat seed of improved varieties, beneficiaries were ensured increased yields, enabling them to produce food for their own consumption and to generate income to help them break the pattern of vulnerability and debt. In addition, this initiative brought the idea to distribute the agricultural inputs on a recovery basis, the households having to pay the packages 50 percent of the costs. The funds are collected by our field partners and re-injected into the communities in which the vulnerable farmer belongs, in order to strengthen the rural development and to respond to the communities needs.

Developed in Balkh, Kandahar, Logar and Nangarhar provinces, this scheme involved the participation of the traditional shuras and/or the Community Development Councils, the district authorities, the Provincial Departments of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, as well as the implementing partners. The outcomes of the project show that not only the vulnerable households received necessary agricultural inputs to resume agricultural plantations but also that they participated to the rural development of their communities, their villages and their districts. Micro-projects were implemented in these four provinces. Sixteen aqueducts were constructed, 46 culverts, four micro-hydro power stations, six retaining walls, one veterinary clinic, six latrines, 39 wells or one agriculture cooperative. The communities have bought also materials for the agriculture purpose such as water pumps and machineries, as well as livestock. The project reimbursement allowed also the rehabilitation of 4 050 m2 of sport ground, 4.5 km of irrigation canals, 15 water reservoirs, six mosques, 9 km of road, 2 000 meters of surrounding walls for schools as well as seven classrooms. In financial terms, around US$450 000 dollars were reimbursed and re-injected into micro-projects. A telling example: the reimbursement of the packages allowed several communities to gather together and to build a 10 kva micro-hydro power station in the district of Surkhrod in Nangarhar. This station now gives electricity to 300 families.

Following the drought of 2006, FAO has continued this initiative to some drought-affected provinces: Badakhshan, Badghis, Faryab, Herat, Jowzjan, Logar, Samangan, Saripul and Takhar, targeting more than 35 000 families on the same scheme, funded by the SDC but also by the Government of the Kingdom of Norway and by the Central Emergency Response Funds (CERF).

In 2006 and 2007, the SDC, once again, emphasized their participation in the improved wheat seed and fertilizer distributions done by FAO through different local implementing partners. Since 2002, SDC provided more than US$4 million to FAO Afghanistan for improved wheat seed and fertilizer distribution.


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