Afghanistan’s farmers, desperate shepherds for seeds, food and cash – Global issues

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Although humanitarian access has never been better, prices are soaring and needs continue to exceed the resources provided, says the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is explained.

“The situation is catastrophic. Every farmer we have talked to has lost almost all his harvest this year, many were forced to sell their livestock, they have accumulated huge debts and simply have no money.” said Richard Trenchard, FAO Representative in Afghanistan.

No farmer wants to leave his land. But when you have no food, you have no grain from the previous harvest, there are no seeds in the fields and your livestock is gone, you have no choice. ”

Daily struggle for millions

That is what the UN agency said 18.8 million Afghans cannot support themselves every day, and that this number will rise to almost 23 million by the end of the year.

What started as a drought crisis has developed into an economic disaster, with nine out of ten large city centers also expected to face extreme difficulties as debt accumulates and savings shrink.

Worrying, that already widespread drought appears to be worsening in Afghanistan, as farmers and shepherds prepare for a likely second year in a row of drought in 2022, with La Niña expected to give Afghanistan drier conditions than normal in the coming months.

This situation will create a very real risk of famine in 2022, unless immediate large-scale support to protect these people and their livelihoods comes very soon, the FAO warned.

“What is needed now is obviously to get them seeds, get them fertilizers and food aid that the World Food Program provides … but also, it’s cash,” insisted Mr. Trenchard.

After visiting the Zendajan district in the westernmost province of Herat – one of 25 provinces affected by the drought – the FAO official reported that families had run out of people and institutions they could turn to to borrow money.

People “even sold whatever they could” to get money, he added.

Beneficiary Niaz Mohammad shows how the pomegranates he has harvested do not ripen in his orchard around the village of Ghra in the Daman district south of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

© FAO / Alessio Romenzi

Beneficiary Niaz Mohammad shows how the pomegranates he has harvested do not ripen in his orchard around the village of Ghra in the Daman district south of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The situation is difficult due to Agriculture is the backbone of Afghanistan’s supply and crucial to Afghanistan’s economy. According to the FAO, about 70 percent of Afghans live in rural areas and an estimated 80 percent of all livelihoods depend on agriculture or grazing.

Mr. Trenchard said so widespread drought had meant that families had nothing to eat during the current lean season, after harvests decreased by 80 to 90 percent.

He called for a massive increase in humanitarian aid, having seen for himself the extent of suffering on the streets of rural Heart.

“The only food they have is food that people give them when they pass by, et cetera. It’s cold there, it’s a tough, tough situation and what scares me is that if these livelihoods in the countryside collapse, we will see a massive relocation. ”

Urgent appeal

The FAO urgently needs $ 115 million to reach five million men, women and children this winter and next spring. Of that amount, one in five dollars will directly support Afghan women.

A $ 157 wheat cultivation aid package allows a farming family to meet their grain needs for a year, compared to $ 1,080 required to cover an average family’s minimum food needs, something few can afford right now.

To help, the FAO already distributes wheat cultivation packages for Afghanistan’s winter wheat season in 31 of 34 provinces. They include high-quality and locally delivered certified wheat seeds and technical training to ensure the best possible results for farmers.

“If we did not get this bag of certified wheat seeds, we would not be able to grow wheat this year. These improved wheat seeds will give a much better yield. “ said Esmatullah Mirzada, a farmer from the village of Safar Khan, in the Zendajan district of Herat province.

Tajikistan expulsion warning

In a related development, UNHCR, The UN refugee agency, on Friday expressed concern over the deportation of Afghan asylum seekers by the Tajik authorities this week.

It said 11 men, women and children were “forced” back to Afghanistan on November 11, before their asylum and protection applications could be considered.

There have also been “growing barriers” for Afghan citizens seeking security and access to asylum procedures in Tajikistan more generally, the UNHCR insisted, noting that local authorities had stopped issuing residence permits to all newly arrived Afghans, “although such documentation is a prerequisite for applications for asylum”.

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