KABUL - Another new agreement on improving Afghanistan’s agriculture was signed at the Embassy of Japan in Kabul between the Government of Japan and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Japan has a long history of investing in agriculture in Afghanistan and a long history of partnerships with FAO, which have covered a range of agricultural sectors, from livestock disease to water management to improving value chains. In this newest agreement, more than 16,000 farming families are expected to benefit from a new project that will improve irrigation facilities for 7,000 ha of land and build local capacities on water management. Approximately 190 km of irrigation canals will be rehabilitated, modernized and extended, and local water managers and water users will be trained on how to best manage the water so as to get the largest possible crops in what is often a very dry terrain.
The work will be implemented by FAO in close collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW) in three provinces of Kabul, Kapisa and Bamyan. The project is supported by the Government of Japan which is providing USD 10 million for its implementation.
The signing ceremony, for the project entitled “The Project for Enhancing Rural Livelihoods through Improved Irrigation Facilities in Bamyan, Kabul, and Kapisa Provinces” was attended by H.E. Mr. Mitsuji SUZUKA, Ambassador of Japan, Mr. Rajendra ARYAL, FAO Representative in Afghanistan, H.E. Mr. Mohammad Gul KHULMI, Acting Minister of Energy and Water as well as a number of Japanese Embassy and FAO staff.
H.E. Mr. SUZUKA, Ambassador of Japan, remarked that “Afghanistan is essentially an agricultural country, and about 80% of the population is engaged with agricultural activities which accounts for more than 30% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Afghanistan’s geographical and climate characteristics offer opportunities for the cultivation of different crops, but it is clear that if water resources are managed and used in a better manner, undoubtedly more agricultural products can be obtained. Without the development and stability of the agricultural sector, the development of Afghanistan will be very difficult. To this end, government of Japan decided to implement this project with the cooperation of FAO.”
Mr. ARYAL, FAO Representative said “Decades of war and migration away from rural areas have left much of the country’s irrigation systems in a poor state. And when there are no irrigation works, farmers don’t have sufficient water for their crops. This is especially pronounced this year as Afghanistan is suffering from a devastating drought that is causing massive food insecurity. Approximately 80 percent of the people of Afghanistan are dependent on agriculture for their main source of income or livelihood, and good water management is key to their success. I am very happy that Japan is supporting another well-devised water management project during such a time of great need for exactly this sort of work.”
This is not the first time Japan has supported work in these three provinces: this new project builds on three earlier phases of irrigation rehabilitation and hydropower projects, which began in 2010, and were completed in February 2017. In these three phases 52,900 ha of land were covered by improved irrigation systems, and micro-hydro power schemes were built that did and still are directly benefitting 163,790 farming families. This water and power has helped families grow gardens, parents to cook healthy foods, and children to do their homework long into the evening.
In addition to signing the agreement, the ceremony also locally launched the new FAO + Japan: A report on partnership 2016-2017, available at http://www.fao.org/3/I8466EN/i8466en.pdf. This report, produced by FAO with important support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan highlights work done in Afghanistan and around the world through close Japanese-FAO partnerships.
Japan has been assisting Afghanistan’s nation-building efforts in various fields including security, infrastructure, agriculture, rural development, human resource development, education, health, culture and humanitarian assistance. The cumulative Japanese assistance to Afghanistan since 2001 amounts to approximately $6.6 billion. (PR)