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FEATURE STORY

Research Farm in Northern Afghanistan Produces Seeds for Local Conditions

December 8, 2015

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Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm is one of the most important research farms in northern Afghanistan producing breeder seeds

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

Story Highlights
  • A research farm in northern Afghanistan is producing pest- and disease-resistant seeds suitable for local conditions, which will result in higher yields.
  • The farm is supported by the Afghanistan Agriculture Inputs Project, implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock with funding support from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).
  • The project is undertaking activities to strengthen ongoing research and seed production activities, resulting in the improvement of quality seed production and release of new wheat varieties.

DEHDADI DISTRICT, Balkh Province – The constant sound of crickets and the beautiful singing of birds break the silence of the early morning at Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm, where Mohammad Wasim is working.

Wasim, 25, who has been working at the farm since the age of 18, is one of its six official farmers producing breeder seeds. Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm is one of the most important research farms in northern Afghanistan producing breeder seeds. “We do the irrigation, raking, weeding and other tasks here,” says Wasim. “So far, I am completely satisfied with my job and try to teach what I learn here to other farmers.”

There are 16 employees working in five different sections in Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm. Wasim works in all five sections: grains, plant breeding, agronomy, vegetables and fruits, and plant protection. He and his colleagues are currently looking at 972 different types of wheat to assess their suitability for local growing conditions.

Every seed produced here passes through five stages: introduction, in which seeds and the ensuing crops are assessed for their suitability; selection; hybridization; mutation; and genetic engineering. At the end of this process is a breeder seed that is sent for further processing before reaching farmers in the form of ‘improved’ seeds.

According to Abdul Wahid Wahidi, a researcher with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), the main goal of Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm is to increase farmers’ productivity in northern Afghanistan through the eventual production and distribution of improved seeds—an outcome that will help generate a long-term solution to the eradication of poverty among farmers. The farm is located on the Mazar-e-Sharif – Sholgar road in Dehdadi district, 16 kilometers west of the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in Balkh province.

Breeder seeds produced by farms, such as Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm, under the Agricultural Research Institute of Afghanistan, are sent to six Improved Seed Enterprises across the country for multiplying to foundation seeds on its regional farms, or through contract seed producers. The foundation seeds are grown and registered, and then sent to Private Seed Enterprises (PSEs).

The102 PSEs across the country multiply the registered seeds into certified seeds, which farmers know as ‘improved’ seeds that are then sold or distributed to local farmers. 


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Women work on the Posht-e-Bagh research farm which is currently looking at 972 different types of wheat to assess their suitability for local growing conditions.

Rumi Consultancy / World Bank

" The good thing about improved seeds is that they are suitable for this climate, a factor that increases both quality and quantity of the crops.  "

Abdul Fatah

Farmer, Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm

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The Posht-e-Bagh is one of the research farms in northern Afghanistan supported by the Afghanistan Agriculture Inputs Project (AAIP) to produce certified wheat seed.

Rumi Consultancy/ World Bank

Seeds suitable for local climate

The 300,000-square-meter Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm was established 30 years ago under MAIL. It is one of the research farms in northern Afghanistan supported by the Afghanistan Agriculture Inputs Project (AAIP), implemented by MAIL with funding support of $74.75 million 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.

Ahmad Shah Ahmadi, a MAIL employee with 15 years of experience on Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm, says that the farm has changed significantly in the past two years since receiving AAIP support. “With support from AAIP, we will buy new agricultural and research machinery and tools for the farm this year,” he says.

The farm will introduce 20 new varieties of wheat to Balkh farmers through 16 PSEs in 2015. In general, it takes seven years of experimental work in Posht-e-Bagh Farm until a newly introduced seed is released and ready for cultivation, says Abdul Fatah, 52, a farmer at the farm.

“The improved seeds result in good harvest. There is an almost 60 percent increase in yield of improved varieties compared to the local seeds,” he says. “The good thing about the improved seeds is that they are suitable for this climate, a factor that increases both quality and quantity of the crops.” The crops are also resistant against pests and diseases, he adds.

In addition to conducting research and experiments on various seeds, Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm celebrates an annual Farm’s Day, when farmers learn about new agricultural techniques, including how and when to plant, how frequently to irrigate, and how to use the improved seeds properly.


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