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Agriculture safe option to strengthen Afghan economy: FAO

Agriculture safe option to strengthen Afghan economy: FAO

Aug 14, 2017 - 08:37

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The United Nations Food and Agricultureinfo-icon Organization (FAO) says investment in Afghanistaninfo-icon’s agriculture ‘is the better and low risk option for strengthening the country’s economy and for finding jobs, but unfortunately little attention has been paid to the sector.’

Ilhom Muhomediev, FAO International Procurement Officer in Afghanistan, in an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News said currently there were many opportunities for investment in the country’s agriculture sector.

“Existence of million hectares of arable lands that are not being cultivated due to lack of essential infrastructure is another opportunity of investment in the country”.

Muhomediev stressed the need for increased water management in Afghanistan and said if the Afghan government managed the water resources, it would change Afghanistan into agriculture products exporting country.

He further said Afghanistan’s annual water quantity reached up to 57 billion m3 besides 18 billion m3 underground water, but only 30 percent of this was utilized.

“Existence of suitable climate, plenty of water and 21 million hectares of arable lands can attract billions of dollars of investment in agriculture, but government spends only four percent of development budget on the sector.”

He asked the Afghan government to increase spending on agriculture sector, improve quality and quantity of products and services and find international selling market for local products.

Muhomediev backed the construction of 21 small and medium water dams, as decided by the government. Preliminary surveys of the dams have been concluded and will be constructed in the next seven years. The dams will bring under irrigation 500,000 hectares of land will cost $2.1 billion

“For strengthening national economy and investment in agriculture in Afghanistan, the government should prioritize the sector and try to attract national and international investors’ attention.”

Muhomediev said UNFOA organized a day-long workshop in Kabul a few weeks ago, with 54 people from 45 companies in attendance, to draw the government’s attention to the private sector’s investment in agriculture.

He said the participants were mainly heads or executives of Afghanistan based companies already registered with FAO Afghanistan. But the companies were not registered with the United Nations Global Marketplace (UNGM).

Muhomediev added the event in Kabul was attended by heads of companies or executives from provinces including Kabul, Kandahar, Baghlan, Jawzjan, Nangarhar, Bamyan, Paktia, Balkh and Badghis.

The FAO official said only one female attended the workshop in Kabul and but FAO would focus more on womeninfo-icon’s participation in doing business.

According to Muhomediev, through the workshop, 45 local companies will be able to do business in more effective way and believed they will improve their capacities to better operate and serve clients from other countries.

“The purpose of this workshop was to draw attention of national and international investors to invest in agriculture sector.”



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