UN purchases local produce to feed hungry Afghans and boost farming

UN purchases local produce to feed hungry Afghans and boost farming

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In a twin move to feed hungry Afghans and stimulate local production, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced the $1.1 million purchase of 4,000 metric tons of locally grown wheat in the western Herat region as a way of overcoming continuing security problems hampering deliveries from further afield.

In a twin move to feed hungry Afghans and stimulate local production, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced the $1.1 million purchase of 4,000 metric tons of locally grown wheat in the western Herat region as a way of overcoming continuing security problems hampering deliveries from further afield.

“When WFP can, and when a good harvest allows, it makes good sense to purchase locally grown cereals for our assistance programmes,” the agency’s Asia Regional Director Tony Banbury said. “This wheat purchase will bring food to vulnerable people in Afghanistan who really need our help, and WFP’s payments will help local farmers recover their livelihoods, a critical step for Afghanistan.”

The recent break in supply affected over 100,000 people in the western region, including Afghans recently deported from Iran, vulnerable men and women who carry out community work in exchange for food, and those enrolled in vocational and literacy courses under food-for-training schemes.

“Extended drought and conflict has had a devastating effect on Afghanistan’s wheat crop in recent years. But this year, we have had a better harvest, and WFP can buy a significant quantity of wheat locally,” WFP Afghanistan Country Director Rick Corsino said. “WFP makes every effort to buy wheat locally or regionally wherever it can do so without disrupting markets.”

For the first time, WFP has also purchased 9,000 tons of wheat from Iran, which will be distributed in Badghis and Ghor provinces.

“The purchase of wheat from Herat has also been well timed,” Mr. Corsino said. “Insecurity on the southern ring road means we have been unable to move food for well over two months. With seriously depleted stocks, poor and hungry people in the west of the country have been suffering.”

Insecurity in many parts of Afghanistan, where WFP aims to provide food to 5.4 million people this year, presents a major obstacle to humanitarian deliveries and continues to threaten projects. Since June 2006, there have been 28 security incidents involving trucks carrying WFP food. The vehicles have been attacked and looted, seven people have died, and an estimated 750 tons of food has been lost.

WFP’s current three-year $378 million Afghan operation is at present 64 per cent funded.