National Conference: The Role of Agricultural Extension Services in Promotion of Alternative Development in Afghanistan

Speeding towards joint efforts to strengthen and diversify licit livelihoods in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN), Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized a  two-day national conference on " the role of agriculture extension services in promotion of alternative development" along with an agriculture exhibition in Kabul on 1-2 October 2018 where alternative development products of the farmers and agri-entrepreneurs supported by UNODC were showcased. The key objectives of the event were to stimulate a discussion among the relevant stakeholders about the role of agricultural extension in promotion of alternative development (AD) and to contribute to strengthening and diversification of licit sources of income for farmers, at a time when subsistence farmers are more compelled to resort to opium poppy cultivation because of their vulnerability to climate change.

Photo 1 . Her Excellency Minister of Counter Narcotics, Salamat Azimi, addressing the conference participants  

In addition to MCN and MAIL, represented by H.E. Salamat Azimi and H.E. Nasir Ahmad Durrani, respectively, the event was attended by technical staff of the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA), Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Ministry of Economy (MoE), representatives from the embassies of the Russian Federation, UK, Norway, Turkey, governors of Nangarhar and Bamyan,  academia, international organizations  such as INL, USAID, UNFAO, UNDP, ACTED, Afghanaid, DACAAR, DCA, Mercy Corps, ORCD, AREU and farmers from 18 provinces.

  Photo 2. The MAIL and MCN Ministers and the UNODC Country Representative visit the AD Exhibition at MAIL organized at the national conference

The participants emphasized the importance of close coordination between MCN, MAIL and partner agencies and adoption of common approaches to implementation of AD programmes at community level.  The event provided an opportunity for face to face discussions and debates to the participants on the key challenges in agriculture and licit livelihoods, impact of the AD projects and how best to ensure the sustainability of these projects and the way forward.