AusAID Media Release
I am pleased to announce funding of a new agricultural research project that will help increase wheat and maize production in Afghanistan, as part of Australia’s commitment to rebuilding food security, income generation and rural employment opportunities.
To achieve this, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and AusAID are providing $1.5 million funding over four years in partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), and the Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL).
This project is an important step to securing a viable agricultural sector capable of meeting the food production demands of Afghanistan. This includes rebuilding agricultural scientific research capacities which have been severely curtailed by three decades of continuous conflict.
Wheat is the main staple crop in the country, with maize the third most important food staple. Production of wheat falls short of meeting demand by 1.5 million tonnes per year, but better crop management practices and seed supplies of locally-adapted varieties with increased disease resistance will help to close this gap.
This project will ensure that farmers in Afghanistan benefit from the identification and introduction of improved wheat and maize varieties, by involving farmers in field trials, and by rebuilding seed distribution networks. These efforts will link with broader FAO programs and with the work of NGOs to distribute seed to wheat and maize growing areas.
A key component of the project’s activities will be the day-to-day involvement and training of Afghan scientists in field and research work. This supports the Agriculture Master Plan developed by the MAIL.
The new project builds on previous ACIAR-CIMMYT work which has laid the foundations for rebuilding Afghanistan’s wheat and maize industries. Previous research projects over the past five years have resulted in the introduction of new wheat varieties with much higher yields, and the on-going training of Afghan cereal scientists.
Funding of this project is in addition to broader aid initiatives in Afghanistan focusing on security, support for governance, the rule of law and human rights, and economic and social development.
BOB MCMULLAN MP
FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE FEDERAL MEMBER FOR FRASER