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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2002 > April
Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 11, 2002
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USAID Delivering High-Quality Wheat Seed To Afghanistan

Throwing seedsThe U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing 7,000 metric tons of wheat seed and technical assistance to farmers in Afghanistan. Late rains have extended the planting season, giving farmers greater opportunity to get this seed into the ground. The seed will increase domestic production of wheat by approximately 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) thus decreasing Afghanistan's dependency on food aid imports.

The U.S. government is playing a major role in rebuilding Afghanistan's agricultural economy. Andrew Natsios, Administrator of USAID, commented on the challenge: "Afghanistan is primarily an agricultural society, 70 percent of the people live in rural areas and two-thirds of its people are farmers or herders. So, if the country is to recover, it's got to recover its economic base, which is agriculture."
USAID is supporting the Afghanistan Interim Authority by providing seed to increase local grain production. Drought and turmoil have limited food production in Afghanistan, and greater agricultural productivity is essential to restoring food security and jumpstarting the rural economy.
The seed is being delivered to more than 40,000 farmers through five non-governmental organizations working in cooperation with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA). The seed is being distributed to farmers in higher elevations and in areas where satellite imagery developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows adequate soil moisture for germination and growth.
The seed is clearly labeled in Afghanistan's two major languages, Dari and Pashtu, to indicate that it is certified for quality and that it has been treated to increase the germination rate. Two wheat varieties were selected for their ability to tolerate drought, requiring as little as 300 mm (12 inches) of rain and 100 days to reach harvest. The arrival of the improved seed will help improve yields because Afghan farmers have not had access to improved varieties and fresh seed for several years.
USAID also is funding the distribution of fertilizer ($5.45 million) through private market channels to boost grain production further. Technical assistance will be provided by the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). In all, USAID is also providing more than $9.0 million to the ICARDA-led Future Harvest Consortium for Afghanistan to produce additional improved seed and planting material in Afghanistan for a wide array of cereals, fruits, vegetables and livestock feed crops to be ready for planting in the fall and beyond. The goal is to restore Afghanistan's ability to produce all of its own improved seed and to develop a modern, market-led seed distribution system by 2004.

In fiscal year 2001, Afghanistan was the United States' top recipient of humanitarian aid, receiving $174 million before September 11. The U.S. has pledged nearly $300 million in this fiscal year for Afghan relief and reconstruction.

Released on April 11, 2002

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