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22 January 2002

Text: Afghanistan Needs $39 Million in Food Aid, U.N. Reports

(FAO says short-term funds would be for seeds, fertilizer) (770)
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that
Afghanistan needs $39 million in food aid this year.
According to a January 21 FAO press release, $18 million is needed in
the short term for seeds and fertilizer, vegetable kits for returning
refugees and vaccinations and feed for livestock. It would also be
used to prepare against locust attacks and to coordinate emergency
agricultural relief operations, the release said.
In the medium term, $21 million is needed for irrigation,
reforestation, seed multiplication, integrated pest management,
veterinary services and to promote alternatives to poppies.
The FAO said special attention should be given to women who are
traditionally responsible for food availability, family income and
nutrition. Twnety years of civil war have left an estimated half a
million households without a male provider, the release said.
FAO has established an emergency coordination unit in Islamabad,
Pakistan, and has already received $6 million from the United States,
Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Norway, the release said.
Following is the FAO press release:
(begin text)
FAO: PEACE AND STABILITY IN AFGHANISTAN DEPEND ON PRODUCTIVE
AGRICULTURE -- APPEAL FOR US$39 MILLION LAUNCHED
Rome/Tokyo, 21 January 2002 -- Peace and long-term economic stability
in Afghanistan must be built on the restoration of productive
agriculture, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today
in a statement issued on the occasion of an international donor
meeting in Tokyo.
"The shortest path to national stability will be for the rural
population to return to their fields and produce the nation's food,"
FAO said. Some 85 percent of Afghanistan's population is dependent on
agriculture, according to the Organization.
FAO said that US$39 million are needed this year to improve access to
food in rural and urban areas by increasing food production and
generating income by providing basic inputs such as seeds and
fertilizer.
The FAO appeal is part of the "UN Appeal for the Immediate and
Transitional Assistance Programme for Afghanistan for 2002," launched
at the Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo.
For its short-term emergency activities, FAO is asking for US$18
million for the distribution of seeds and fertiliser, vegetable kits
to returnee families, support to livestock through vaccinations and
animal feed, emergency preparedness against locust attacks and the
establishment of a Food Security Assessment Unit and the coordination
of emergency agricultural relief operations.
"The food security situation of the urban and rural population remains
bleak," said Anne Bauer, FAO's focal point for Afghanistan. "Autumn
planting was seriously jeopardised by drought and military actions.
The animals of nomads are unlikely to survive through the winter
season due to feed shortages and diseases if not vaccinated in time.
Displaced farmers need seeds and fertilisers to restart agriculture.
Special attention will have to be given to returnee families and their
host communities to facilitate a smooth reintegration process."
For medium-term activities in 2002 FAO requested US$21 million. These
development activities will focus on the rehabilitation of irrigation
schemes, reforestation, seed multiplication, the promotion of
high-value crops to reduce poppy production, veterinary services and
integrated pest management.
"FAO will pay special attention to the situation of women," Anne Bauer
said. "They are traditionally responsible for food availability,
family income, nutrition, health care and education. Moreover, 20
years of civil war have left an estimated half a million households
without a male provider. The starting point must be to identify the
needs and resources available to women."
"In addition, if we want farmers to give up opium production, they
need to have access to alternative crops, to credit and to markets.
The fight against poppy production can only be won if we manage to
improve the household and community welfare especially in the rural
areas."
FAO has already established an Emergency Coordination Unit in
Islamabad. After its initial aid appeal in early August, the UN agency
received US$6 million from Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway
and the US. The procurement and distribution of seeds is currently
underway for the spring planting and animal feed is also being bought.
The Department for International Development of the United Kingdom has
allocated US$2.9 million to FAO for an integrated agricultural
emergency and development programme in Afghanistan.
Currently FAO has eight international staff based in Islamabad and one
in Mazar-e-Sharif. Approximately 40 Afghan nationals are working for
FAO inside the country. FAO will soon re-open its office in the common
UN premises in Kabul.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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