By: Shukria Kohistani
Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) says drought will put negative impact on agriculture sector this year.
In an interview with The Kabul Times correspondent, a spokesperson to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) Akbar Rustami said based on assessments done by National Statistics Authority and MAIL, a number of provinces and districts would be unfortunately affected by drought this year.
“In general, a large number of districts in Afghanistan are in critical condition. The situation in 45 districts is severe, mid-severe in 81 districts, while 221 districts are protected from drought this year,” Rustami said, adding that drought has caused that animals are facing with lack of grass and forage; therefore, distribution of forage to animal owners is in priority of the government.
Currently, with support and cooperation of relevant international organizations particularly the World Food Program have started distribution of forage to owners of animals in some parts of the country.
“The level of wheat production will reduce by 24 percent during the current year comparing to last year. Based on predictions of the ministry of agriculture, irrigation and livestock, more than 4 million tons of wheat will be produced this year,” the MAIL spokesperson said.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Hirat, Badghis and Ghor provinces in the western region have come under extreme drought conditions and Farah is under severe drought conditions with a marked reduction in wheat production expected. Drastic reduction in rainfall has caused levels of food and water scarcity across Afghanistan.
Environmental experts believe that increasing drought is the result of direct consequences of the climate change and Afghanistan will be facing with this challenge for years.
Meanwhile, local officials for Balkh provincial department of agriculture, irrigation and livestock say more than 40 percent of agriculture crops have reduced this year due to lack of rainfall. It is said that more than 210 tons of wheat was annually produced in Balkh, but due to lack of rainfall and severe drought in the province, wheat production will considerably reduce this year.
Provincial director of agriculture, irrigation and livestock for Balkh Mohammad Alem Sayee considers lack of rainfalls and severe drought as the main cause of the low wheat production in the province.
“Climate change has caused that we have less rainfalls this year. It was determined that we could get 215 tons of wheat this year, but due to lack of rainfalls and severe drought, the wheat production has dropped by 40 percent this year,” Sayee said.
He asked the government to provide modern trainings and agricultural equipment to Balkh farmers so that they could get more crops from their fields. According to Balkh local officials, lack of rainfalls in winter have dropped wheat production in the province although the government has distributed farmers with improved seeds.