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For Immediate Release
Sunday, August 6, 2006
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently approved a $4.4 million project with the University of California – Davis to assist in the development of Afghanistan’s livestock sector.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently approved a $4.4 million project with the University of California – Davis to assist in the development of Afghanistan’s livestock sector. The Pastoral Engagement, Adaptation and Capacity Enhancement (PEACE) project will promote development of the livestock sector by supporting policy planning, pastoral land tenure conflict resolution, and the introduction of new technologies to improve rangeland management, livestock production, and marketing. It will also help train the Government of Afghanistan personnel responsible for livestock development.
About 75 percent of the land area of Afghanistan is rangeland, which is of critical importance to the agriculture sector providing the watershed catchments for the country’s river system. Irrigated agriculture in the lowlands depends on the management of the rangelands. These grazing lands support a livestock population estimated at 22 million, over half of which are raised by nomadic pastoralists, or kuchi.
Years of conflict and drought severely affected nomadic pastoral production systems. Traditional migration routes were disrupted, rangelands were plowed up to plant crops, access to grazing land for the kuchi was restricted, and many livestock were lost to drought and disease. Development of the livestock economy depends on improved rangeland management, better animal production practices, and more effective marketing of livestock products.
“Afghanistan needs to modernize its agricultural economy. The University of California-Davis and Texas A&M will play an important role in our agriculture program by bringing new technology and scientific information to assist with our development efforts,” said Mr. Leon S. Waskin, USAID Afghanistan Mission Director, “I saw the benefit of these new risk management technologies for the nomads in Mongolia, where I worked before coming to Afghanistan.”
The PEACE project builds upon work initiated under the USAID-funded Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program (GL-CRSP) in East Africa and Mongolia. Range and livestock specialists from Texas A&M University developed a Livestock Early Warning System (LEWS) that provided information on forage conditions, thus enhancing the ability of nomadic pastoralists to mitigate effects of drought. The technical work of adapting the Livestock Early Warning System (LEWS) technology to Afghanistan will be led by scientists from Texas A&M University and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station under a subcontract with the University of California-Davis.
“This project presents interesting challenges,” said Dr. Tag Demment, Director of the Global Livestock CRSP and a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. “I am pleased that the USAID Mission in Kabul has understood the merits of our work in other pastoral areas and sees the opportunities that exist to bring this experience to Afghanistan.”
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