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
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Findings and Recommendations

1. Scope of cereal seed aid needed in 2002.

Assessments of village-level seed aid requirements are urgently needed in cereal-growing areas. Afghani farmers may need about 80,000 MT of wheat seed aid in 2002 of which - by as yet untested assumptions - 20,000 MT would be needed in irrigated areas and 60,000 MT in rainfed areas. Rice, maize, and barley seed aid requirements may be on the order of 8000, 7000, and 7000 MT, respectively. Both actual needs and ability to deliver may be much lower.

2. Local versus imported procurement.

For rainfed wheat seed aid, an appropriate locally-based strategy to supply 60,000 MT in 2002 may be simply impossible, but perhaps it could take the form of:

  1. redistribution of existing stocks of seed, including unmilled grain still stored as a single variety with good germination; 15000 MT
  2. replication of rainfed variety seed, including Dayima 94, Ghori 94, and local landraces (subject to vernalization & photoperiod issues) in irrigated fields this spring to produce 35,000 MT
  3. import of international variety seed identical or (similar?) to Lalmi 1, Lalmi 2 and Lalmi 3; 10,000 MT

For the hypothetical 20,000 irrigated wheat seed aid, perhaps it would be possible to import for the spring planting 10,000 MT of modern variety seed from Pakistan and elsewhere for distribution only in areas where it has already been found to be well-adapted. And for the other 10,000 MT relying on the existing FAO-led seed production network and the hiring of additional skilled farmers to produce about 10,000 MT of quality seed for redistribution to farmers.

3. Strengthening of the formal seed sector in Afghanistan including the top end of the seed chain.

Further programs involving CGIAR centers and National and Foreign University breeding programs would complement the existing seed network created by NGOs and the FAO-Afghanistan Seed Program. Support and capacity-building should target both the formal and informal seed sectors and the public and private seed sectors in Afghanistan. Review of crop germplasm collected in Afghanistan over the past 80 years and of exotic crop germplasm tested in Afghanistan over the past 40 years would provide a stronger foundation for the planning of new breeding and crop improvement programs in country. Provision for training of Afghani scientists in the area of seed technology to the graduate degree level would be important to this longer-term undertaking. In the short term, tendering for seed supply at the provincial level coupled with oversight and training of contract farmers may help to the more competent contract farmers to upgrade to the status of Small Seed Enterprises.

4. Rescue, conservation, and enhancement of landrace wheat germplasm.

Afghanistan lies within two of Vavilov's seven historic centers of crop diversity, but collection of germplasm of crops and their wild relatives virtually ended about 1970. Nonetheless, within the USDA's National Small Grains Germplasm Research Facility, Afghani accessions make up 14% of all landrace accessions of bread wheat (T. aestivum subsp. aestivum) and 31% of wild barley (Hordeum sp.) accessions. All seed need assessment missions to Afghanistan should include expert staff to collect wheat, barley, chickpea and other crop germplasm along with related socio-agronomic data. Similar to Seeds of Survival/Ethiopia, a program of farmer participatory landrace assessment, enhancement and release should be launched. Concurrently, research on the function of the genetic diversity in increasing systems robustness should be promoted.

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