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Poole, Nigel, Sharma, Rajiv, Nemat, Orzala A., Trenchard, Richard, Scanlon, Andrew, Davy, Charles, Ataei, Najibeh, Donovan, Jason and Bentley, Alison R. (2022) 'Sowing the wheat seeds of Afghanistan's future.' Plants, People, Planet, 4 (5). pp. 423-431.

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Societal Impact Statement: The production and availability of food underpins societal stability. In Afghanistan, wheat is the major arable agricultural crop and source of dietary energy. The withdrawal of NATO allies and partner countries from Afghanistan presents numerous well‐documented societal and political challenges and has impacts on immediate and longer‐term food security. Conflict‐impacted irrigation infrastructure coupled with growing climate instability have also contributed markedly to reductions in current food, and specifically wheat, production. Here, we review the status of Afghan wheat improvement and propose a research agenda to support the regeneration of Afghanistan's wheat and agricultural sector. Summary: Afghanistan is a country with diverse natural ecologies in a largely arid and mountainous region. The rural sector is still considered to drive economic potential. Current social, political and economic instability along with climatic challenges are driving food and water insecurity in the wider region. In the short term, it is likely that this and the associated challenges of displacement and unemployment can only be addressed by humanitarian intervention and agrifood and nutrition support. In the medium to long term, drought, and heat, probably linked to climate change, will pose recurrent challenges for agriculture and food security that will require a much broader set of interventions to secure the rural population's livelihoods. The genetic gap, among other major challenges, must be addressed if Afghanistan is to develop its agricultural potential leading to income and livelihood improvements for farmers and stable and accessible supplies for consumers. Only thereby will the country be enabled to reap the important and long‐sought trade and food security benefits derived from self‐sufficiency. Here, we highlight the agricultural challenges facing Afghanistan and propose forward strategies for ensuring the future stability of wheat production, the cornerstone of Afghan agriculture.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: food security, humanitarian intervention, irrigation, nutrition, plant breeding, seed systems
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Development, Environment and Policy
ISSN: 25722611
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2022 09:34
Funders: Other, Other, Other, Other

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