On May 20, 2009, Ambassador Eikenberry joined government officials, farmers, agribusiness representatives, and international investors at the launch of the Kabul International AgFair on May 20. Held at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestockâs Badam Bagh Demonstration Farm in Kabul, the fair showcases Afghanistanâs wealth of fresh produce, provides lucrative business opportunities, and demonstrates innovative agricultural technologies. It is expected to attract more than 50,000 participants from May 21-22.
U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Afghan Acting Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) Saleem Kunduzi gave opening remarks at the AgFairâs launch. âThe United States Government is co-sponsoring national and regional AgFairs like this one to encourage trade and generate business opportunities in the agriculture sector,â Ambassador Eikenberry said. âIn a country that is 80 percent rural, promoting licit crops and agriculture sector job creation are two essential steps to successful development in the region.â
Member of Parliament Abdul Salam Qazizada offered bold remarks, stating that we need to engage more with farmers in every province throughout the country.
Following the ceremony, Ambassador Eikenberry visited a number of vendors at the fair with Acting Minister Kunduzi and Mr. Qazizada. In speaking with farmers displaying their produce, Ambassador Eikenberry found that many have increased yields due to USAID assistance, have found regional buyers for their produce, and were grateful for the opportunities that AgFair provides.
Ambassador Eikenberry also discussed the state of agriculture with Minister Kunduzi and Mr. Qazizada. They agreed that while some progress has been made, there is a great deal more work to be done. Ambassador Eikenberry reiterated from his speech that USDA Secretary Vilsack recently met with Minister Rahimi to discuss the U.S. commitment to agriculture development. In a message to the Afghan public, Secretary Vilsack stressed that the USG aims to play a leading role by bringing more agriculture experts to the provinces and supporting agriculture research such as the Badam Bagh Demonstration Farm. Additionally, he looks âforward to working together to increase agricultural productivity, which will result in more jobs throughout the entire value chain, and a better quality of life for the citizens of Afghanistan.â
The United States Government is proud to support Afghan agriculture. Since 2002, America has provided more than 1 billion dollars in assistance to agriculture and rural development. AgFairs like the one Ambassador Eikenberry visited creates awareness of Afghanistanâs expanding agricultural sector, promotes new agricultural technologies that increase productivity, and provides a forum to connect farmers to local and international buyers. These results will contribute to Afghanistanâs prosperity.
We are already seeing the results of these fairs. Since 2007, Afghanistanâs agricultural fairs have attracted more than 500,000 participants from across the nation and the world, generated millions of dollars in sales of the countryâs high-value produce, and provided participants with a competitive edge in one of the fastest growing markets in Central Asia.
As Ambassador Eikenberry stated, âThe word is out â with over 180 international businesses represented at this fair, it is obvious that Afghanistan has sparked the interest, and appetite, of the world.â
June 3, 2014