Afghanistan

World Food Day - Afghanistan inaugurates a National Seed Secretariat

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) celebrates World Food Day (WFD) each year on 16 October, the day the Organization was founded in 1945 in Quebec City, Canada .The World Food Day for 2008 is "World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy".

Climate change affects everyone, but the worst hit will be hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, fisheries and forest-dependent people who are already vulnerable and food insecure by affecting the availability of land, water and biodiversity, and the price of food, the rising demand for biofuels produced from food crop also has an impact on the poor.

World Food Day provides an occasion to once again highlight the plight of 923 million undernourished people in the world. Most of them live in rural areas where their main source of income is the agricultural sector. Global warming and the biofuel boom are now threatening to push the number of hungry even higher in the decades to come.

As usual, the FAO Representation in Afghanistan in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture will celebrate the WFD on Thursday, 16th October 2008, at Badam Bagh, Kabul. This ceremony includes inauguration of the National Seed Secretariat Building and the Perennial Horticulture Development Centre at Badam Bagh in Kabul, which will become the umbrella institution for all seed industry functions in the country.

The new National Seed Secretariat is situated in close proximity to the Central Seed Testing Laboratory in Kabul and accommodates the apex institutions for coordinating seed industry functions in Afghanistan, comprising the National Seed Board and its affiliated bodies namely the Variety Release Committee, the Seed and Plant Health Inspectorate, the Seed Certification Agency, and the Afghanistan National Seed Association. The National Seed Board will be proclaimed upon ratification of the Seed Law, which is currently at parliament level for consideration. The Seed Board will function as the highest body in the seed sector with overall oversight for the management of the national seed programme and having autonomy and freedom to carry out its functions.

The total construction cost of the National Seeds Secretariat (about US$400,000) has been financed by a 10-year seeds sales revolving fund generated by seed producing partners including a local NGO, Voluntary Association for the Rehabilitation of Afghanistan (VARA), two international NGOs, Islamic Relief Agency (ISRA), Mercy Corps (MC), two public sector organizations, Improved Seed Enterprise (ISE) and Nangahar Valley Development Authority (NVDA). Utilizing part of the seed sales revolving fund for this important institutional development serves a long-term need of the farmers in Afghanistan and will help strengthen the national seed industry, the primary objective for which this fund was created.

UN Agencies, International NGOs, Ambassadors, donors, representatives of Governmental authorities, Afghan farmers and national and international media were invited to the celebration. An exhibition of agricultural projects and activities of FAO and Ministry of Agriculture was on display and agricultural inputs have been distributed to key farmers.