The World Food Program (WFP) has informed of a $1 million (AFN78.2 million) contribution from the Republic of Korea to go towards improving household food security and nutrition through strengthening soya production in Afghanistan.
Around 2,400 smallholder family farmers 800 of which are female-headed in Balkh, Herat, Jawzjan, Kapisa, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Parwan and Takhar provinces will receive improved fertilized soy seeds, training, agriculture equipment and other support to increase their soy bean productivity.
The soya program is designed to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition while promoting soya processed food, such as soya milk, soya naan and soya korma, and I hope Korea’s contribution to the soya program will lead to establishing self-sustainable soybean industry in Afghanistan,’ said Zha Hyoung Rhee, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Afghanistan.
WFP and partners will also work with soy seed producers, soya production companies and bakeries to link the smallholder family farmers’ soya products to the markets and to promote consumption in the country.
‘Afghanistan suffers from persistent problems of under-nutrition. Although malnutrition has decreased considerably over the last two decades, the prevalence of chronic under-nutrition or stunting among children under 5 is still high at almost 41 percent,’ said Zlatan Milisic, WFP Country Director in Afghanistan.
‘This has long-term effects on children’s growth and development and undermines their productivity later in lives. In order to tackle malnutrition among children, adolescent girls, women and elderly people, we need to focus on promoting foods rich in micronutrients, and soya bean is an exemplary source of that.’
Due to its high nutritional values and benefits to smallholder farmers, soybean is a very important agriculture product in Afghanistan. We appreciate the efforts taken by WFP and the Republic of Korea for their contributions in supporting the soya value chain in Afghanistan during the past decade.
By promoting soybean, we are not only supporting smallholder farmers but also contribute to enhancing the nutritional status of the general Afghan population,’ said Mahbobullah Nang, Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Livestock of Afghanistan.
Since 2013, in collaboration with the Government of Afghanistan, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, WFP has been working with donors such as the Government of the Republic of Korea, and private sector partners to support soybean research, production, and consumption.
Now, soybean has been identified amongst the 17 priority crops. Around 70,000 smallholder soya farmers and more than 400 government employees have been trained in soybean cultivation across the country and nine soya production companies were established in Herat, Jawzjan, Kabul, Kapisa, Kunduz, Mazar, Nangarhar and Takhar provinces.
The Republic of Korea is a longstanding partner of WFP, with over $60 million in the past seven years to WFP operations in Afghanistan alone. In addition to food assistance, the Korean Government has been assisting Afghanistan’s nation-building efforts in various fields, including capacity building, infrastructure, agriculture, rural development, sustainable energy, education, health, culture, among others.