Afghanistan is highly dependent on agriculture but has been suffering from multiple plant pest and disease outbreaks. With this in mind, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) has prioritized the identification all existing plant pests and diseases, to be followed by a prevention strategy. This has led to the launch of the ‘Nationwide Insect Pests and Plant Diseases Survey’. At a Stakeholder Planning Workshop, Deputy Minister Mir Amanudin Haidari said: “We have many diseases in Afghanistan and they have cost us a lot. They are even a trade barrier. Some diseases have been transmitted to our county. Identification and creating a database of such diseases are vitally important. It will enable us to prevent diseases like we had in melons in Takhar Province few years ago.”
Abdullah Wajidi, the acting director of Afghanistan Agricultural Inputs Projects (AAIP), who are funding and coordinating this survey, stated that the survey is an important part of the AAIP’s work. CABI has been selected to carry out this work in collaboration with Plant Protection and Quarantine Directorate (PPQD) and other MAIL departments. CABI organized the two-day ‘Stakeholders Planning Workshop’ with an objective to finalize the survey implementation plans and methodologies with inputs from the technical teams of all MAIL departments as well as the University.
Afghanistan recently gained World Trade Organization (WTO) membership, and it is a membership prerequisite to identify and list all plant pests and diseases prevailing in the country. Muhammad Faheem, CABI Country Coordinator for Afghanistan, explained that this survey will not just identify pests and diseases but also collect detailed data on their locations and the crops affected. The survey will be conducted over two years, and will study plant pests and diseases on all manner of hosts (including field crops, vegetables, fruit orchards, forests, veterinary farms and stored grains), and in all terrains. A national database will be developed to record all the data gathered and a national museum will be established to preserve all the samples for future research.