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February 28, 2017

Learning from a good practice in India-Japan collaboration: Afghan officials from Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), visited projects for "crop diversification" at the foot of Himalayas

JICA has been providing Afghan government officials with many capacity development opportunities at home and abroad. Taking the advantage of JICA's wider network in the region and know-hows accumulated through collaborations with partner countries over the years, JICA has been conducting "third-country training" in various countries including India. JICA's operation in India dates back to 1950s. As such, there are not a few "shining examples," crop diversification program in Himachal Pradesh State is one of them.

Twelve Afghan participants from MAIL visited the State of Himachal Pradesh in the north India from 24th to 28th February, 2018 in order to learn lessons from a decade-long India-Japan collaboration on crop diversification there. JICA has been assisting Himachal Pradesh in promoting diversification of crop cultivation through Technical Cooperation Projects and an ODA Loan Project for more than ten years. Himachal Pradesh is a hilly state located at the foot of the Himalayas, which has close/similar agro-ecological conditions with Afghanistan, thus offering many precious lessons to the participants on what kind of problems farmers faced, what kinds of specific assistance have been provided by the JICA projects and how relevant introduced technologies and skills in irrigation and cultivation are well functioning. This training aimed at increasing the area and production of vegetables through crop diversification, to raise and increase the income of farmers and promote the organic farming, to organize farmers into groups to take over operation and maintenance of irrigation systems, training and capacity building of departments of agriculture extension staff and farmers.

Himachal Pradesh has emerged as the leading producer of off-season vegetables, realizing the importance of commercial crops. It is famous for its quality fruits and vegetables such as tomato, potato, leaf vegetables, mangos etc, which also abound in Afghanistan. Due to the above similarity JICA India and JICA Afghanistan jointly arranged a cross-learning opportunity for Afghan officials in collaboration with the both Indian central and state governments.

During the stay, the participants visited different project sites to learn useful and effective techniques in increasing production of different crops, which eventually lead to boosting farmer's income in target areas. They have also obtained know-how on various activities; from low value to high value crops, from water loving crops to water saving crops, from single crop to multiple/mixed crops, from crop alone to crop with crop livestock, from agriculture production to production with processing and value addition. Furthermore, they had intensive discussion with the officials of Himachal Pradesh Government for the good practices and lessons learnt from the project experiences.

One of the participants said "the training was so fruitful; the intercropping techniques are very rare in Afghanistan which I have learnt though this training. In order to boost the income of smallholder farmers, I will introduce those techniques to extension officers and farmers in Afghanistan. He was impressed by the ownership of farmers and communication among the stakeholders including the state government.

It is expected that the participants will disseminate lessons /knowledge learnt from the visit to other MAIL officials in Afghanistan.

JICA Afghanistan office, in close collaboration with JICA India office, will continue to explore more cross-learning opportunities in India where many valuable assets between India and Japan and good legacy of teamwork spirit exist through a wide range of collaborative works between the two nations.

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