13 Oct. 2008
PR# 2008-529

ANSF, ISAF provides security to help delivery of winter wheat seed to Zabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - What does it take to transport 260 metric tons of winter wheat seed through Afghanistan?

Zabul provincial officials know the answer: Months of coordination, dozens of Afghan National Police officers and Afghan National Army soldiers, a handful of flat bed trucks, help from ISAF troops, and possibly most important, inter-province cooperation.

Numerous players aided the Zabul agricultural director, Bismallah Hanif-Khel, with certifying, ordering and transporting the seed from Parwan province, north of Kabul. Zabul Governor Delbar Jan Arman, Deputy Governor Gulab Shah, contractors, certified seed growers from Parwan, Wardak officials and Ghazni officials to include the Zabul provincial reconstruction team all helped in planning the transfer.

To ensure those transporting the seed could travel safely through other provinces, Arman coordinated with the governors of Wardak and Ghazni. Also, the ANP and ANA provided security with the help of ISAF forces.

The first seed delivery arrived in Zabul Sept. 5, and the last shipment arrived Sept. 26. The seed will supply about 10,000 families in the province.

“This wheat seed is very important for Zabul province because it is Gul-96, plus three French varieties—all improved, high quality, certified seed," said Hanif-Khel. "We will distribute to certain districts in Zabul province. They will get a lot of product out of this seed and farmers can save this seed to use the following year.”

Some farmers were initially worried that they had not received enough wheat seed to stop growing poppy, their most profitable crop. However, the seed is meant to be grown in smaller quantities; because of the high quality, the seed will produce a much higher yield.

Speaking to village elders from Shahr-e-Safa, who received 400 bags of the seed Oct. 9, Deputy Governor Shah explained how farmers are to use it.

“This seed is not for eating; it's for growing and improving your stock of seed,” he said. “I want you to distribute this equally among all of the people.”

“You promised last year that you would not grow any poppy,” reminded the Shahr-e-Safa district administrator, Shadee Khan Nori. “That's why these people are here giving you good seed so you can grow wheat instead of poppies.”

“To ensure this seed is actually improving a farmer's stock, individual districts will maintain a record of who receives seed and where he plants it,” said Christoph Greco, a U.S. Department of Agriculture representative working with ISAF’s Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team. “It is like giving a prize goat or camel to each family to improve their overall herd.”

The seed has been sent to Nawbahar, Shamulzay, Atghar, Shinkay, Deh Chopan, Arghandab, Mizan, Tarnak Wa Jaldak, Shajoy and Qalat districts. The timing of distribution is crucial so farmers may get their seed planted before winter arrives.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/