USDA Supports Agricultural Extension Development in Afghanistan
Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2011–The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a $14 million grant to a University of California-Davis-led consortium of universities to assist Afghanistan in strengthening its agricultural extension system. Agriculture employs more than 80 percent of Afghanistan’s labor force and generates more than 40 percent of its economic output. USDA-supported efforts in the country are intended to empower the Afghan government strengthen Afghan-led development. The grant has been awarded through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“The Afghan people rely heavily on a sustainable and profitable agricultural industry for their livelihoods and for the stability of the country,” said Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Catherine Woteki. “Just as the Cooperative Extension System is vital to agriculture in the United States, building a strong extension system in Afghanistan will help strengthen its agriculture sector while serving the needs of the Afghan people.”
UC Davis, along with Purdue University and Washington State University, will work with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) as they attempt to deliver more effective, demand-driven extension services to producers and other rural clientele. The consortium will link MAIL with local university faculty, vocational schools, the private sector and other information providers to develop a viable and credible extension system in Afghanistan. The project will focus on professional development training for extension staff in order to increase extension’s ability to meet farmers’ needs and ultimately build public confidence in MAIL’s capacity to provide critical services.
The project is designed to spur improvements in household food security and income generation through professional training in such areas as postharvest technology for grain and fresh market produce, conservation agriculture for wheat, peri-urban horticulture and practical management of ruminant animals and poultry.
The U.S. Cooperative Extension System is a non-formal educational system that delivers practical, applied science information and educational programs to agricultural producers, land managers, consumers, youth, families, businesses and communities across the United States. Cooperative extension offices in nearly 3,000 country or tribal administrative units are part of the U.S. land grant university system, and utilize federal, state and local resources to carry out this mission.
NIFA’s Center for International Programs (CIP) will collaborate with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service in overseeing the implementation of this three-year project. Funding for this project originated with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which transferred funds to capitalize on the unique resources of USDA and its land-grant institution partners to strengthen Afghanistan’s MAIL extension system.
NIFA’s CIP assists U.S. universities and other institutions as they seek to strengthen the global dimension of their research, education and extension programs. Recognizing the domestic benefits derived from international collaboration, CIP has facilitated university involvement in several development projects around the world and provided grants for U.S. universities to internationalize their programs.
Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is at: www.nifa.usda.gov.
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