Afghanistan becomes 179th member of international convention to control spread of plant diseases

29 Aug 2013

Afghanistan becomes 179th member of international convention to control spread of plant diseases

KABUL - The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has granted Afghanistan membership to International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), which seeks to secure coordinated and effective action to prevent and control the introduction and spread of pests of plants and plant products, according to a news release from the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

“The Secretariat of Food and Agriculture Organization based in Rome assured of Afghanistan’s membership to International Plant Protection Convention,” said the news release on Wednesday.

The director of Plant Protection and Quarantine at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Mir Amanuddin Haidary, said that Afghanistan’s membership to IPPC “is highly important for global commerce and protection of plants health.”

Mr. Haidary is hopeful that, following Afghanistan’s membership to IPPC, the country will receive financial assistance for capacity building and to help prevent plant diseases. “This assistance can help us understand plant diseases in different parts of Afghanistan and their spread from other countries into Afghanistan due to plant trade with other countries,” he added.

Preventing the spread of plant disease is vitally important in Afghanistan, where 75 per cent of people live in rural areas where agriculture is the primary activity. According to the World Bank, Afghanistan's agriculture sector contributes about half of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

A recent example of a plant disease which caused havoc for Afghan farmers was the 'melon fly.' In the absence of international quarantine mechanisms and poor border control measures that disease spread from neighbouring countries and, according to Mr. Haidary, damaged Afghan melon crops.

The MoFA news release added that Afghanistan, as the 179th member of IPPC, will be in contact with the Secretariat of FAO “in order to ensure regular contacts, receive timely notification on relevant developments and to take advantages of the convention’s benefits.”

Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts, the UN agency notes in its website. Agricultural and rural development is also one of the focuses of Afghanistan's National Priority Programme. FAO’s mandate is to improve nutrition, increase agricultural productivity, raise the standard of living in rural populations and contribute to global economic growth.