Seed security in Badakshan, Afghanistan
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Kermali, Iqbal. 2001. Seed security in Badakshan, Afghanistan . In: An exchange of experiences from South and South East Asia: Proceedings of the international symposium on Participatory plant breeding and participatory plant genetic resources enhancement, Pokhara, Nepal, 1-5 May 2000 . Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Participatory Research and Gender Analysis (PRGA), Program Coordination Office, Cali, CO. p. 359-365.
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Badakshan is located in the extreme northeastern comer of Afghanistan and has not yet come under Taliban control. The province is virtually cut off from the rest of the country and is traditionally food deficient. The 20-year-old conflict in the region has further aggravated the situation, causing massive population displacement and al most complete destruction of civil institutions and infrastructure. The situation has become so serious that food aid has to be distributed in the period of grain deficit, starting from before the harvest. Simultaneously, efforts are being made to rehabilitate and improve the agricultural systems of these farming communities. In all formal and informal surveys in the area over the last three years, the farmers have identified good seed of wheat cultivars and fertilizer as being their main priority. Currently the seed of high-yielding cultivars acquired from the Centro International de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (CIMMYT) are available, but such varieties do not always perform well under farmer’s conditions. The potential of these varieties can not be realized without the use of fertilizers. Almost all the available animal dung is used to as fuel and Iittle is available for use as manure. The small amounts of chemical fertilizer available are total inadequate in quantity and exorbitant in price. In response to these needs, improved varieties of wheat, potatoes, and vegetables are being provided to over 100 villages in five isolated districts bordering Tajikistan. Three to eight farmers in each village are testing the new planting materials under their local Conditions. These farmer-Ied, on-farm evaluations are al so serving as demonstration plots for the remainder of the farmers in the village. The farmers will compare the performance of the varieties provided with their existing varieties. Cultivation of the better of the two will be encouraged through farmer-to-farmer exchanges and credit through village organizations for the inputs. This procedure will be repeated every growing season whenever new potential materials, including varieties, landraces, and different crop species are available. A secondary goal is to enhance on-farm genetic diversity among and within different crop species. These activities will be gradually transformed into participatory breeding, allowing the community to gain full control over the type and amount of varieties being produced and exchanged with their neighbors. Participation in the management and decision making for seed security by the farming community will contribute to reestablishing local food security and peace in the area
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