US, WB pledge continued support to Afghan agriculture
KABUL (Pajhwok): United States and World Bank (WB) officials have pledged continued support and assistance to the development of Afghanistan agriculture sector, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) said on Tuesday.
The pledges came at high-level meetings between Afghan Minister Assadullah Zamir and senior US and World Bank officials in Washington, the ministry said in a statement.
It said the meetings proved fruitful as Afghanistan’s donor community emphasized the importance of agriculture to the security and prosperity of the Afghan nation.
Zamir met with senior representatives from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United States Department of State, United States Institute of Peace (USIP), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States Congress, and the World Bank during the first three days of his ten-day executive fact-finding mission to the United States.
Recognizing agriculture as “the backbone of Afghanistan’s economy” and the sector “key to the growth and stabilization of the Afghan nation,” the US and World Bank senior officials confirmed their continued support and pledged increased assistance to Afghanistan’s farmers and agribusiness community.
Larry Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at USAID, commended Zamir on his ministry’s ambitious but highly achievable strategic vision.
He stressed USAID’s desire to continue opening a new chapter of closer engagement, consultations and partnership with MAIL as they work together to achieve Zamir’s goal of food security and wheat self-sufficiency by 2020.
The same message of close collaboration, support, and increased assistance was echoed by Annette Dixon, World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region.
Dixon, herself an enthusiast of Afghanistan’s dried fruit, nuts, and award-winning saffron, confirmed the bank’s interest in increasing funding to MAIL – both in the long and short term – in order to help in the “rehabilitation of Afghanistan’s agricultural infrastructure and to create job opportunities” for the millions of unemployed Afghan citizens.
Minister Zamir said that “agriculture is the hope and future of our country. It is the only sector consistently driving our national GDP forward and it provides the best opportunity for creating jobs, benefiting women and other marginalized groups, and reducing poverty and food insecurity.”
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