Best harvest in Afghanistan for 32 years
KABUL - Afghanistan will see its best wheat harvest in 32 years, according to a report released today by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Estimates suggest overall cereal production will rise to 6.3 million tons in 2009, up by 74 per cent from last year.
Of this, wheat accounts for a majority of the produce, with yield up by 63 per cent and production estimated at 95 per cent higher when compared to 2008.
The area of wheat cultivation, too, has risen by 20 per cent.
“The main reason for this year’s bumper harvest is the heavy rainfall in March and April,” said Asif Rahimi, the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.
High-quality seeds and the timely control of pests and diseases also contributed to better crops.
Encouraged by the prospects of a bumper harvest, Mr Rahimi underscored the need to modernize agriculture and to give greater priority to irrigation and loans to farmers.
“We are near to self-sufficiency. If we can bring water to our lands, invest in our lands and rebuild them, I think Afghanistan will not only be self-sufficient, but it will also be able to export,” he said.
Tekeste G. Tekie, head of the FAO in Afghanistan, also expressed optimism on the findings of the report: “This is a scientific survey. And when the bulk of wheat and barley is reaped in July, you will not be disappointed. It will be a record harvest this year,” he said.
The Agriculture Prospects Report was compiled with the help of data from provincial and district staff and interviews with more than 5,000 farmers across the 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
By Aditya Mehta, UNAMA