Afghanistan: Governor Ata Noor opens seed review meeting in Mazar

News and Press Release
Originally published
Kabul, 27 May 2007 - The 22nd Seed Review Group (SRG) meeting of the EU-funded seed project in Afghanistan was held on 22 May 2007 in the northern regional capital of Mazar-i-Sharif under the aegis of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL). The meeting was opened by the Balkh Provincial Governor, HE Ata Mohammad Noor, and brought together 176 stakeholders representing various seed industry units from across the country.

SRG meetings are held twice each year for implementing partners of the project to review ongoing seed production and marketing activities, exchange ideas and experiences, and discuss with technical experts their plans relating to upcoming operations and developments in the seed industry.

In his opening remarks, Governor Ata Noor acknowledged the leading role of FAO in organizing the seed sector of Afghanistan and his pleasure in hosting the Seed Review meeting in Mazar for the first time. He was particularly pleased that the supply of certified seed with associated technology will not only improve the financial status of farmers but will help in the fight against poppy cultivation. He appealed for an increase in product quality and marketing efforts such that agricultural products coming from Afghan farmers and enterprises could compete effectively with the flood of cheaper imports from neighbouring countries. These sentiments were reechoed by Mr. Mirdad Panjsheri, Chief Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture and Chairman of the National Seed Committee, who emphasized the use of improved technology in the seed sector and effective public and private sector partnership.

The new FAO Representative in Afghanistan, Dr. Tekeste Tekie, sent a message of support and encouragement to the partners and farmers attending the meting. In a statement read on his behalf, Dr. Tekie reiterated FAO's efforts in food security and poverty alleviation of the farmers in Afghanistan by providing them seed of improved varieties and developing the national seed industry.

The meeting revealed that the new private sector comprising small scale community-based enterprises will account for up to 65% of a total target of 11,000 metric tones of certified wheat seed to be distributed for sowing during 2007. These private enterprises have also begun diversifying into other important food crops and already have available small seed quantities of some crops. These developments mark an important change in the seed industry, and one that would increase farmers' access to quality seed for improved crop productivity, household food security and income.