By Akhtar M. Nikzad-KABUL: Vowing to overcome the existing challenges and lead the country towards prosperity, President Ashraf Ghani said that enemies of the nation had kept the government busy in the war aimed at preventing Afghanistan from development.
Speaking at the 15th exhibition of agricultural products and the World Rural Women’s Day, the president said the government wants to make Afghanistan self reliant in agriculture sector because a big part of agri-products are imported from neighboring countries.
Afghanistan annually imports worth over three billion US dollar agri-products and livestock, he said, adding that inaccessibility to improved seeds is a major challenge in front of agricultural sector development. “Ten percent of farmers have access to improved seeds. Afghanistan annually imports around 600,000 tons of wheat from neighboring countries.”
The president said that agriculture sector has not been standardized and there is need for concentrated efforts to control water resources, expand cultivable lands, provide certified seeds, manpower and equipment. He said the government has planned to accelerate its efforts to invest over these important agricultural elements with cooperation of the private sector.
He said the government is working with relevant organization over a plan to procure all the requirements of the Afghan National Security Forces from domestic production which estimates around 650,000 ton food items annually.
For the next four years, the government would basically control and manage all the small water resources to bring more lands under cultivation, he added.
Terming the women’s role in agriculture sector vital, Ghani said the government is trying to support women farmers.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) has organized the exhibition to pave the ground for promotion of domestic agricultural products and to build close partnership with national and international investors.
The exhibition was also aimed to mark the World Rural Women’s Day on 15 October. Women have put their products on display in the expo.
First Lady Rulah Ghani said that Afghanistan needs development but it is not only the responsibility of men, but women also have an important role to play, given that the government provides required facilities.
Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Assadullah Zamir, said that increase was observed in agricultural production this year as compared to the last year.
“According to figures, in most parts of the country the farmers had considerable production this year. The increase was observed in section of fruit, vegetables and other products,” said Zamir.
Speaking about the support programs for farmers, he said the ministry is trying hard to provide trainings to farmers in the area of packaging and marketing.
He pointed out that from 2014 up to now the agricultural ministry in collaboration with international donors covered 200,000 farmer women through different programs including horticulture, apiculture, poultry and cultivation of saffron.