Afghanistan’s agriculture sector emerges as new priority

19 Apr 2009

Afghanistan’s agriculture sector emerges as new priority

KABUL - Afghanistan's Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) met today, Sunday, for its first session in 2009 and agreed to place development of the country's long-neglected agriculture sector among new top priorities.

The JCMB heard presentations from the ministers of finance, interior, and commerce on recent promising progress in several areas. But it was the unveiling by Minister of Agriculture, Asif Rahimi of a new strategic vision for the agriculture sector that took centre stage.

The plan, known as the National Agriculture Programme Framework, aims to create jobs among the majority rural population while sowing the seeds for future improved national prosperity.

"Maximising our agricultural potential demands improvements in three inter-related, mutually reinforcing areas: managing our natural resources upon which agriculture is dependent; increasing agricultural productivity; and food processing and marketing that bring added value. Together – and only together – these complementary agricultural subsectors can ensure national success economically and environmentally while contributing to security,” said the Minister, in a report accompanying the meeting.

The JCMB agreed to support five agriculture priorities in 2009: a scheme to purchase and then supply seed to farmers; help for farmers in leasing unused government land quickly and fairly; improved access to credit for farmers; a project to help change management at the ministry; and an agricultural and rural development facility involving Afghanistan’s main economics ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture.

Afghanistan was once a leading food producer in the region, and has long been famous for its fruits and vegetables. In the past year it has emerged once again as an exporter of several crops, including pomegranates. With good rainfall levels so far during 2009, potential exists for good harvests over the coming months.

The JCMB is where Afghanistan’s leaders and their international partners identify top development priorities and commit to supporting them. It is co-chaired by the Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

By Jamil Danish, UNAMA