FAO seed project releases two new wheat varieties for Afghan farmers

With the changing climatic conditions and emergence of new plant diseases, Afghan farmers are in dire need of new high yielding and disease tolerant varieties to replace many older varieties that are showing signs of deterioration. It is in response to this need that the Variety and Seed Industry Development project, which is being implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) with funding from the European Union (EU), is paying a primary attention to the development of new varieties having improved characteristics and performance.
After 5 consecutive years of testing and screening in 9 agro-ecological zones around the country by FAO in close collaboration with field stations of the Agricultural Research Institute of Afghanistan (ARIA), two outstanding varieties have been identified and were presented to a special session of the Variety Release Committee at MAIL on 12 August 2008. The Committee approved the two varieties namely Dorokhshan-08 and Shesham Bagh-08 for release on the specific merits of high yield potential, tolerance to diseases and suitability for bread making. They add to the extremely limited number of improved spring wheat varieties available in Afghanistan, and will be particularly useful for farmers in high elevation cool areas who may not be able to plant their wheat crop in the autumn season because of time and water constraints. Until now, farmers in such locations are using mostly traditional varieties and are in desperate need of new improved materials to enhance their food production potential.

Following the release of these varieties, the project and the MAIL extension service will now endeavour in collaboration with seed producers to publicise the new varieties in farming communities and make available sufficient quantities of quality seed within the shortest possible time. This is good news for Afghan farmers, which will undoubtedly be greeted with joy in farming communities across the country.

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