The Planning of Emergency Seed Supply for Afghanistan in 2002 and Beyond
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Contents Findings Part I Part II Part III References Abbreviations/Glossary Appendix 1 2 3 4 5 Maps
Part II : A Methodology for Appropriate Emergency Seed Aid Response « previous page | next page »
2.1 - Cultivar Selection Process
2.2 - Recommendations regarding UXO
2.3 - The risks associated with an over-emphasis on modern variety seed
2.4 - Hypothetical Seed Aid Needs in 2002

2.4 - Hypothetical Seed Aid Needs in 2002

This paper is the result of a "desk study" and has not benefited from any survey work carried out in Afghanistan in the past six months. We wish to emphasize the "hypothetical" nature of our calculations and the urgent need to adjust our desk study assumptions on the basis of actual field survey work and on field experience in Afghanistan that we do not have.

2.11 Working assumptions for generating the data Table 2.1

Columns 1-3 in Table 2.1 are copied from a World Food Program Report whose url is indicated at the bottom of the table. It cannot be emphasized enough that the numbers in columns 4,5, and 6 are simply hypothetical numbers based on the illustrative assumptions. They are by no means numbers that any agency should "act upon;" they are simply indicative of what the regional seed requirements would look like if the various assumptions were correct. An excel spreadsheet of this table is located at: ICARDA_chart2.xls so that anyone wanting to change the assumptions in accordance with other hypotheses or with ground-truthed, survey information can do so.

The Illustrative Assumptions

Wheat areas likely to be cropped in year 2002: As befitting a desk study, we simply took the WFP estimates of areas cropped to wheat in the most recent year, 2001, and the most recent non-drought year, 1998, and averaged these two figures for each agricultural zone to predict areas likely to be cropped to wheat in Year 2002.

We have reason to believe that this formula could be overly-optimistic in view of the fact that drought seems to be persisting for a fourth year, some areas have been recently rendered unsafe and inaccessible as a result of aerial bombardment and possible use of land mines, some irrigation systems may have been further damaged in the recent warfare, and some rivers that normally provide water for irrigation are reportedly flowing at very low levels or not flowing at all.

A more realistic scenario may be to take WFPs estimated 2001 area figures and multiply by a factor of 0.75, particularly for rainfed area and those irrigated areas impacted by recent warfare.

Seeding rates:

  • irrigated wheat: We selected the low end of the reported seeding rate for irrigated wheat in Afghanistan of 110-170 kg/ha.
  • rainfed wheat: We selected the low end of the reported rate for rainfed wheat in Afghanistan of 80-100 kg per hectare.
    Perhaps seeding rates need to be increased as access to animal traction decreases and quality of soil preparation is reduced. We noted that in Alberta, Canada, machine seeding rates of only 25-30 kg ha gave optimal yields when drought stress was very high (Tompkins, Hultgreen, Wright and Fowler, 1991 & shown at www.usak.agriculture ). If drought is assumed to be a significant constraint, perhaps Afghan farmers in rainfed areas can similarly reduce can reduce risk by halving their usual seeding rate.

Seed Aid needed:

  • irrigated wheat: We assumed that enough seed and unmilled grain stored as an unmixed single variety exists that farmer-to-farmer and NGO- or GOA-to-farmer redistribution of these stocks could provide most of the seed needed for year 2002. We put seed aid for the irrigated areas at a "generous" 15% of estimated total seed needed in the irrigated area.
  • rainfed wheat: We assumed that enough and unmilled grain stored from harvests in rainfed areas in the 1999, 2000, and 2001 cropping seasons is virtually non-existent. We therefore put seed aid for the rainfed wheat areas at 95% of the estimated total seed needed in the rainfed areas.

2.12 Packaging of Seed Aid

Packaging of seed should include:

  • Provision of as much informed choice to farmers as possible to farmers to make their own selections of seed.
  • Clear labeling on the names and characteristics of the variety and input and agronomic requirements, time to harvest, winter or spring wheat, etc.
  • Well-labeled packages in local languages with simple messages and critical information.
  • Smaller rather than larger packages that can easily be transported or carried by animal or people over unfavorable terrains.

Table 2.1. Afghanistan: Hypothetical Cereal Seed Needs in 2002
  1000s ha 1000s MT seed
Region 1998 2001 1998 2001 2002
Wheat Irrigated     Assumes Seeding at 110kg/ha Assumes Seeding at 110kg/ha If 15% of aver. of 98,01 seed usage needed as aid
Central 69 75 7.59 8.25 1.19
North-East 200 173 22.00 19.03 3.08
East 75 77 8.25 8.47 1.25
South 95 95 10.45 10.45 1.57
South-West 270 280 29.70 30.80 4.54
West 190 174 20.90 19.14 3.00
North 280 254 30.80 27.94 4.41
East-Central 55 28 6.05 3.08 0.68
Total 1234 1156 135.74 127.16 19.72
Wheat Rainfed     Assumes Seeding at 80kg/ha Assumes Seeding at 80kg If 95% of aver. of 98,01 seed is needed as aid
Central 20 3 1.60 0.24 0.87
North-East 260 156 20.80 12.48 15.81
East 10 4 0.80 0.32 0.53
South 42 8 3.36 0.64 1.90
South-West 90 50 7.20 4.00 5.32
West 230 142 18.40 11.36 14.14
North 250 245 20.00 19.60 18.81
East-Central 50 15 4.00 1.20 2.47
Total 952 623 76.16 49.84 59.85
All Wheat 2186 1779 211.90 177.00 79.57
Secondary Crops     Assumes seeding at 100 kg/ha Assumes seeding at 100 kg/ha If 50% of aver of 98,01 seed is needed as aid
Rice 180 121 18.00 12.10 7.53
Maize 200 80 20.00 8.00 7.00
Barley 200 87 20.00 8.70 7.18
Total 580 288 58.00 28.80 21.70
Total Cereals 2766 2067 269.90 205.80 101.27
Source of three left hand columns is: Special Alert No. 315, FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Afghanistan

2.13 Risks of introducing exotic varieties to farmers without prior testing in-country

Recommendation: We recommend that no exotic variety wheat seed be extended directly to farmers if the variety has not been previously tested in-country and found to have acceptable results in the area for which distribution is being considered, or in an area with similar environmental conditions.

Prof. Azam Gul has expressed concern to us about the possibility that 1500 MT of Inqilab 92, a facultative spring wheat grown in Pakistan may have been ordered from the Punjab Seed Company for use as seed aid in Afghanistan despite the possible lack of trial data for this variety in Afghanistan. Inqilab 92 is apparently no relation to Inqilab 91, which according to Appendix L is grown in eastern Afghanistan.


Vernalization requirements: Winter wheat typically needs 6 weeks of cold weather to vernalize. This is a biological process that is necessary to enable to plant to flower and produce grain later in the season. The temperature range for vernalization is from -1.3 C. to 15.7C. with the ideal temperature being 4.9C. The vernalization process begins as soon as the seed imbibes water. For example, a winter wheat normally planted in November, will sprout and establish a lawn of small plants before they become dormant as colder winter weather sets in. In this case there is plenty of time for vernalization to take place. However, if this same winter wheat was planted in March, there may be a high risk that the crop would begin to grow, but would never flower and produce a crop. The same variety planted in January or February may still vernalize and produce a crop, but the later start would make the plants smaller and more vulnerable to drought or other stresses. Yields would likely be reduced.

Photoperiod: Another "risk factor" is that some cultivars may require a certain day-length to trigger flowering. Moving these cultivars to another latitude may result in flowering not occurring or occurring at the wrong time.

Disease and insect resistance: Adequate and appropriate resistance to local disease and insect pests is an obvious requirement for exotic varieties, but one that can only be determined by local, longer-term testing. Yellow rust, for example, is the most serious disease of wheat in Afghanistan.

Straw characteristics: Afghan farmers use wheat and barley straw for livestock fodder and therefore they would not favor dwarf wheat varieties (< 0.75 meters plant height) or tough-strawed cultivars that livestock would find hard to chew and digest. Tough-strawed varieties are developed to be lodging resistant, but may also be more difficult to harvest by hand.

Eating characteristics: Afghan cuisine is likely to favor soft red wheat rather than hard red wheat.

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