Newsroom  Press releases  2003

34) ICRISAT to work with Afghan Government (22 January 2003)

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) will be developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to provide scientific support to re-create the country's agricultural system, destroyed by war and drought.

This was decided at a meeting between Mr Mohammed Sharif, Afghanistan's First Deputy Minister of Agriculture, and ICRISAT senior staff during his two-day visit to the Institute.

Explaining the relationship between ICRISAT and the new Government of Afghanistan, Dr Dyno Keatinge, ICRISAT's Deputy Director General-Research, speaking on behalf of Director General Dr William Dar, said: "We have sown a seed today. Properly nurtured, this fragile seed will one day grow into a strong tree."

The final MOU is expected to be ready in time for the next meeting of the International Consortium of agriculture and development institutions working together to re-establish the agricultural system in Afghanistan. Dr Dar represents ICRISAT in the Steering Committee.

The Minister said that while his Government will find donors to support projects, ICRISAT's support will be invaluable in reconstructing the country's agricultural system from scratch. One way ICRISAT can help, according to Mr Sharif, is to help farmers select crops that can be grown in areas that have been rehabilitated from poppy cultivation. The new Government is working on a mission to reduce and eliminate poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. ICRISAT will also assess the training requirements for Afghan researchers in biotechnology, plant protection and quarantine, and watershed management.

ICRISAT will also help to establish a gene bank in the country, and will consider positioning a chickpea scientist at Kabul.
At the Minister's suggestion, ICRISAT designed a logo for Afghanistan's Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. The logo was presented to the Minister before he left for New Delhi.


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