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Making a difference in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is still be in the midst of turmoil and conflict, but the work CIMMYT is doing to help rebuild the agriculture sector has won praise from the person responsible for coordinating agricultural research in that country.

“We are very pleased with the cooperation and help we have received from CIMMYT, right from the beginning,” said M. Aziz Osmanzai in an interview with Informa at his office in Kabul, Afghanistan. “I hope CIMMYT will be able to expand staff and operations in our country as the work you are doing has been particularly effective.”

Osmanzai is Director of Agriculture Research Institute (ARIA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock of Afghanistan (MAIL). He was particularly pleased that two new wheat varieties, based on CIMMYT material were performing very well under local conditions and were being proposed for formal varietal release.

He hoped too that CIMMYT might find ways to help the government encourage and implement more conservation agriculture in the country. While wheat is the number 1 food crop, it is grown by share croppers and small holder farmers using traditional methods. Seeds are broadcast by hand into fields that have been plowed using draft animals and so more modern seeders do not exist in the country, making the transition to zero till more difficult.