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FEATURE STORY

Afghan Farmers Reap Benefits of Improved Crop Seeds

December 4, 2015

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‘Darulaman-07’ is one of six varieties of wheat seeds grown in Khasa-Paz farm this year. It is an improved wheat variety that is resistant to yellow rust and has a yield potential of 4 tons per hectare. 

Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Story Highlights
  • Adopting improved wheat seeds and production practices are paying off for farmers through bountiful harvests and efficient farming practices in Balkh Province.
  • Access to improved wheat seeds is one of the outcomes of the wide range of actions carried out by the Afghanistan Agriculture Inputs Project to increase wheat production and productivity in the country.
  • The project is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and supported by a grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

 

DEHDADI DISTRICT, Balkh Province –The cool wind and cloudy skies make it an ideal day for farmers to work on their farms. Farmer Mohammad Ghani, 42, is working alongside other farmers, under the guidance of their supervisor, and weeding in the wheat farm where ‘Darulaman-07’ is planted.

‘Darulaman-07’ is one of six varieties of wheat seeds grown in Khasa-Paz farm this year. It is an improved wheat variety that is resistant to yellow rust and has a yield potential of 4 tons per hectare. The wheat from this type of seed seldom grows higher than your knees, Ghani says, as he works in the field.

“We work hard here, day and night. Luckily now, farmers’ conditions are better because of the improved seeds,” says Ghani, who has been working on the farm for eight years. He lives with his family of 11 in Khasa-Paz village in Dehdadi district, Balkh Province.

Khasa-Paz farm, owned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), produces foundation seeds that are subsequently multiplied to registered seeds. The farm is one of six Improved Seeds Enterprise (ISE) production farms that produces foundation seeds from breeder seeds, which are produced by the Agricultural Research Institute of Afghanistan (ARIA).

ISE farms, such as Khasa-Paz farm, sell the registered seeds to102 Private Seed Enterprises (PSEs) across the country, which in their turn use these seeds to produce certified seeds, known as ‘improved’ seeds, for sale or distribution to local farmers.

Khasa-Paz farm occupies a huge area of land of about 1.9 million square meters, west of Mazar-e-Sharif city. It is one of the farms in northern Afghanistan that is being supported by the Afghanistan Agriculture Inputs Project (AAIP), implemented by MAIL with funding support from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

Launched in July 2013, AAIP aims to strengthen institutional capacity for safety and reliability of agricultural inputs and sustainable production of certified wheat seed. Among its many activities are actions to strengthen ongoing research and seed production activities, which are resulting in the improvement of quality seed production and release of new wheat varieties. AAIP is supported by a grant of $74.8 million from ARTF. 


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Last year Khasa-Paz farm produced 87.5 tons of foundation seeds as a result of this, many farmers are seeing greater yield from using the improved seeds.

Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

" Now that I see and understand the difference between good and poor quality seeds, I try to share the knowledge that I have gained with other farmers I know.  "

Lal Mohammad,

Farmer, Khasa-Paz farm

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Now the farmers understand the difference between good and poor quality seeds and share the knowledge with other farmers.

Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Good harvest from improved seeds

Last year Khasa-Paz farm produced 87.5 tons of foundation seeds. “Today, as a result of this, many farmers are using improved seeds in the northern region,” says Hesamuddin Rahimi, 28, AAIP Agronomy Manager in Balkh Province.

“Improved seed is a vital input for proper crop production,” Hesamuddin points out. “Khasa-Paz farm has managed to help farmers to some extent as it is one of the farms where tons of registered seeds are being produced and sent to PSEs to produce improved seeds for distribution to the market.”

Summer and winter annual plants are grown on Khasa-Paz farm, according to Hesamuddin. “This year we have planted wheat as a winter annual in 35 hectare   of land. As for the summer annuals, we have planted six hectares with cotton, two hectares with watermelon, and another two with onions.”

In Afghanistan, however, many farmers still use low quality seeds that result in poor harvests—a crucial factor in perpetuating poverty among farmers. Those who have used the improved seeds now see the difference in output.

Faqir Mohammad, 63, who also works on Khasa-Paz farm, says, “I have worked as a farmer for 33 years but it was only recently that I have managed to obtain a good harvest because in the past I had limitations in accessing improved wheat seeds.

In addition to the technical support AAIP provides to Khasa-Paz farm, there are programs to build capacity among the farmers and other agricultural professionals in Balkh Province, according to Hesamuddin. “Some of the farm staff were sent to India for short-term courses, and others for a Master’s degree in agriculture,” he says. “After their return, they have spread a better knowledge of agriculture in their homeland.”

Farmer Lal Mohammad, 35, who works in Khasa-Paz farm and has undergone training, says, “Now that I see and understand the difference between good and poor quality seeds, I try to share the knowledge that I have gained with other farmers I know.”


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