April 9, 2018
New Delhi, April 9, 2018: The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) conducted "The Country Training Program in India on Crop Diversification for Afghanistan" from February 22, 2018 to March 2, 2018 and 12 functionaries from the Government of Afghanistan were invited to the program.
In the program, the Afghanistan functionaries visited Shimla, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi in Himachal Pradesh (HP) to learn from the experiences of the Government of HP on policy development, capacity development and implementation of crop diversification in collaboration with JICA initiatives.
JICA has been supporting the State of HP for more than 10 years for crop diversification. In line with the master plan developed under the JICA's Development Study (2007-2009), JICA has been implementing Technical Cooperation (TC) Projects with JICA experts on sites (2011-2016 for Phase 1 and 2017-2022 for Phase 2) and an ODA Loan Project (2011-2020) simultaneously. The ODA loan project entails development of 210 minor irrigation facilities, farm roads and promotion of vegetable cultivation across 5 districts of HP. In TC Project Phase 1, establishment of crop diversification model in HP to be expanded in the ODA loan project, and capacity building of extension officers mainly from the aspect of cultivation have been in success. TC Project Phase 2 is now extended to enhancement of the crop diversification model from the aspect of postharvest management, processing, and marketing etc.
Through the above efforts of the Government of HP with the support of JICA, about 1,000 ha has been shifted to vegetable cultivation area and some of the farmers reported that their income level has significantly increased whereas the Prime Minister of India in 2016 has set the objective of "doubling the farmers" income by 2022." For instance, after the commencement of the JICA projects in HP, a farmer reported his income level had increased more than 4 times, and another farmer reported that he could earn a profit of over INR 33,000 by cultivating tomato on only 0.10 ha of his land.
Speaking on the occasion of the wrap up meeting of the program, Mr. Takema Sakamoto, Chief Representative, JICA India Office, said, "There are three key points for the successful implementation of the projects. Firstly, the Government of HP, with maximum utilization of JICA's cooperation, prepared the strategic long-term plan, namely the master plan backed by the scientific analysis / proper diagnosis of the current situation / issues. Secondly, the Government of HP has closely communicated with farmers, increased and maintained their motivation, and created their strong ownership. Lastly, the projects have supported market-oriented approach in order to materialize real increase of farmers' income. I am expecting the functionaries from the Government of Afghanistan, as selected personnel, to deepen understandings of good practices and lessons learnt under the projects in HP and to consider how to promote similar initiatives, with heavy responsibility, in the context of Afghanistan for the betterment of farmers in Afghanistan."
The Afghanistan functionaries appraised the program and were impressed especially with the ownership of farmers and communication among the stakeholders including the Government of HP. Furthermore, they underscored the technical learning, such as intercropping techniques and solar pump, is also useful.
After coming back to Afghanistan, the Afghanistan functionaries participated in the program reported their experiences and learned knowledge back to their offices in Kabul and each province. Many provinces in Afghanistan have small irrigation schemes rehabilitated and developed recently in support of JICA and other donors, and these irrigation facilities shall be utilized properly by farmers with support from the Government of Afghanistan. Their learning in India includes how to motivate farmers both technically and financially and to keep momentum for farmers to manage water resource and use appropriate cultivation techniques for crop diversification which is expected to be fully utilized in the context of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan officials with Mr. Takema Sakamoto, Chief Representative, JICA India (front, second from left), Mr. Katsunori Uehara, Senior Representative, JICA Afghanistan (front, third from left) and Mr. Subroto Talukdar, Principal Development Specialist, JICA India (front, first from right), at JICA India Office
Established, by a specific law, as an independent administrative institution under the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) aims to contribute to the promotion of international cooperation, as a sole Japanese governmental agency in charge of ODA implementation. JICA is the world's largest bilateral donor agency. JICA works as a bridge between Japan and emerging countries, and provides assistance in forms of loan, grant and technical cooperation so that the emerging countries can strengthen their capabilities.
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