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KABUL – The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan today inaugurated the country's first Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR).
The warehouse complex in Kabul, which can hold up to 22,000 metric tons of wheat, was inaugurated by Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi and Claude Jibidar, WFP Country Director for Afghanistan. The US$ 7.7 million facility was funded mainly by the Government of Australia, and is located near Kabul's grain silo in District 3 in the west of the city.
The completion of the facility in Kabul represents the first phase of a country-wide SGR initiative, involving the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Bank, that seeks to rehabilitate and build infrastructure to hold 200,000 MT of food. In times of emergency, this would be enough to assist about two million people for up to six months.
The grain reserve will also contribute to stabilizing local wheat prices in times of shortage - through the controlled release of wheat onto the market by government authorities - and provide storage space for farmers, so they have greater control of when to sell their crops.
"I am pleased to see the establishment of the Strategic Grain Reserve, a joint project by the Ministry and WFP. This first facility will alleviate the hunger of many vulnerable people in Afghanistan, often affected by emergencies like droughts or the recent floods, to which this country is prone," said Minister Rahimi.
"WFP's food assistance directly reaches more than 2.4 million of the most food insecure people in Afghanistan. I am happy to see that through the strategic grain reserve we can indirectly assist more people in need, while at the same time contributing to better emergency preparedness and response to the disasters that affect millions of Afghans every year. We hope that this facility, built to the highest international construction standards, will be an asset in Afghanistan's journey towards food security for many decades to come," said Jibidar.
In the next phase of the nationwide project, WFP is seeking about US$20 million to construct additional facilities to store up to 40,000MT of wheat in the capital and other key cities including Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Pul-i-Khumri, and Kandahar, as well as small-scale storage space at district level.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.
WFP has been working in Afghanistan since 1963 with the aim of helping Afghans build a hunger-free future for themselves and their country. WFP food is distributed on the basis of need, without regard for ethnicity, religion or political affiliation. This year, WFP aims to reach some 2.4 million Afghans with food assistance.
In the new programme starting 2014, WFP activities will focus on emergency response and nutrition intervention to vulnerable populations including children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. The programme will assist 3.6 million people over 3 years with a budget of US$500 million.
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