Afghanistan Minister of Agriculture Opens Steering Committee Meeting of Future Harvest Consortium

"The benefits of new technology cannot be extended to farmers without research. The Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food (MAAHF) is with you in bringing back the country on international agricultural map." With these words, H.E. Mr Obaidullah Ramin opened the third Steering Committee Meeting of the Future Harvest Consortium to Rebuild Agriculture in Afghanistan (FHCRAA) on 23 February in Kabul. The Minister expressed pleasure over the activities of FHCRAA and the progress made in a short period of time, and welcomed the implementing partners and delegates to the meeting. "We invite the FHCRAA and international community to increase their efforts to help the farmers and people of Afghanistan", he said. He specifically thanked ICARDA for its coordinating role and dedicated efforts in rebuilding agriculture in Afghanistan.

Prof. Dr Adel El-Beltagy, Director General of ICARDA and Chair of FHCRAA, thanked Minister Ramin for his assurance of support to the Consortium activities and for opening the Steering Committee meeting. "FHCRAA members work hand-in-hand to bring the best expertise from all over the world to optimize the development of agriculture in Afghanistan", he said.

"Agriculture lies at the heart of development in Afghanistan, and we are thankful to H.E. Mr Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, for his strong support to agricultural research and development in the country," Prof. El-Beltagy said.

Coordination between various Afghan Ministries, donors, and development organizations is essential to avoid duplication of efforts, and optimize the benefits and improvements which farming communities expect from us.

FHCRAA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, seeks to ensure integration of research with development efforts, provide strategic planning, set priorities, and make necessary recommendations to strengthen national agricultural research infrastructure and capacity to optimize the pace of agricultural development.

"Support from various donors to FHCRAA represents the 'goodwill' of their respective people. We assure you that we will spare no pains to translate this goodwill into improvements in the life of Afghan farmers, and the economy of the country," Prof. El-Beltagy said.

In addition to the FHCRAA team, more than 50 scientists and administrators from other developmental agencies, NGOs and donors also attended the meeting. H.E. Mr Obaidulla Ramin, Minister of MAAHF; Mr Mohammad Sharif, Deputy Minister, MAAHF; H.E. Mr James Moseley, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, USA; H.E. Dr Serge Verniau, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Afghanistan; Mr David Radcliffe, Department for International Development (DFID); Mr Allen Kelly, Asian Development Bank; Mr Arnaud Cauchois, European Union; and Mr Kohoi Sato, JICA, were among the prominent delegates.

The Steering Committee of the FHCRAA reviewed the progress of various projects being implemented in Afghanistan, and discussed the issues that need attention in the future. As part of a review and planning exercise, a meeting was organized on 22 February to evaluate the 11 research projects active in Afghanistan under the umbrella of Research on Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF). RALF projects are managed by ICARDA, funded by DFID and implemented by CGIAR centers, international/national centers of excellence, NGOs, and US-based universities in close collaboration with MAAHF.

The second day of the SC meeting, 24 February, was devoted to the launch of "Healing Wounds" by H.E. Mr Obaidullah Ramin, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food, on behalf of H.E. Mr Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan (Please refer to The Week, Issue No. 858 of 3 March 2005).