Afghanistan heading towards a possible drought

Afghanistan heading towards a possible drought

KABUL - Toby Lanzer, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, has raised concerns over a possible drought in Afghanistan next year, pledging the UN’s all out support to Afghanistan in case there is a wheat shortage in the country.

Meanwhile, officials from the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) have said that Afghanistan has suffered enormously from the impact of climate change in the world and that the level of the country’s underground water table has dropped considerably.

NEPA says that the lack of rain and snowfall this year threatens the grasslands and agriculture sector in the country.

“We will lose our water resources if there is no rain and snow, also our agriculture sector will be harmed and this increases poverty,” said Malikyar, deputy chief of NEPA.

UN says in case of drought, Afghanistan will need 1.5 million tons of wheat.

“If there is a drought, if indeed there was a shortfall of 1.5 million metric tons of wheat or perhaps more, I have no doubt that the international community, be it friendly countries of the region, be it the donor community (would help),” said Lanzer.

“Less than 30 percent of the average rain fell in 24 of 34 provinces across Afghanistan from October to January, and I estimate the country will face a 1.5 million MT deficit of wheat this year,” Lazer said in a twitter post on 5 February.

The Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) has said that the government has a stockpile of 240,000 tons of wheat in case of a drought in the next solar year.

“The level of rain and snowfall has significantly decreased compared to previous years, we have established strategic reserves in Herat, Kabul, Balkh, Kandahar and Pul-e-Khumri provinces. We will also work on the rehabilitation of the irrigation system. Drought poses serious harm to rainfed wheat crops,” said Akbar Rustami, MAIL spokesman.

Agricultural products form a core component of Afghanistan’s national economy. The country needs over six million tons of wheat every year from which, 4.5 million tones are produced inside the country and the remaining 1.5 million tons are imported from abroad.