Strengthening Afghanistan’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Systems
A technical steering group will be formed to help strengthen Afghanistan’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) systems as part of the country’s ambitions for increased global exports of its fruit and vegetables.
Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) scientists Zakria Faizi and Habibullah Shaheer joined an SPS and food safety seminar on March 30, 2021 — held under the building Afghanistan’s SPS science-based systems program (AfSPS) — to share their expertise on the importance of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO's) SPS Agreement in agricultural trade and its role in protecting human, animal and plant health.
The seminar provided a venue for dialogue between the government of Afghanistan and U.S. government officials on Afghanistan’s SPS capacity-building priorities. It was an opportunity to reflect on the importance of SPS measures and implementation of WTO standards, current Afghanistan’s SPS capacity gaps and needs, regulatory harmonization and interministerial coordination, including the role of the newly established Food and Drug Control Authority.
The AfSPS program — led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), USAID and the U.S. Department of Commerce's Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), and implemented by CABI in partnership with the Directorate of Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQD), the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) and Texas A&M University — aims to increase agriculture-led growth and trade through enhanced SPS systems in Afghanistan.
For CABI, the objective of the AfSPS project is to enhance interministerial and public collaboration and coordination on SPS measures, with a focus on increasing the adoption and implementation of SPS measures and systematic monitoring and management of SPS risks among agribusinesses.
The project work plan includes online training courses, which support the effort to integrate SPS good principles in trade along agricultural value chains in Afghanistan. CABI will help to deliver prioritized SPS courses identified in a baseline study.
Afghanistan produces a variety of high quality fresh fruits and dried tree nuts, which have good potential for expanding export to international markets. However, there is a dire need to enhance the country’s SPS system to meet the requirements for international trading.
The absence of a strong SPS system can cause trade barriers for exporters and producers due to the reduction of consumers’ trust in produce, leading to rejection of shipments from Afghanistan and the decline of the country's agriculture production system.
To trade successfully at an international level, preventative approaches along the food value chain need to be adopted. These preventative approaches require a quarantine network and laboratories where the country’s agricultural produce can be inspected for pests and diseases based on SPS measures.
CABI has already implemented projects and programs that have beneficial impact in Afghanistan. The CABI-led Plantwise program is a global effort that helps farmers lose less of what they grow to pests and diseases. Working closely with national agricultural advisory services, the program has established 162 plant clinics, trained 333 plant doctors and published 33 scientific fact sheets since 2012.
Other projects have included Integrated Crop Management in High-Value Crops (2007-2008), Training of Marginalized Farmers in Kunduz (2010), Rice Value Chain Development in Takhar (2016-2017) and Integrated Pest Management in Apple in Baglan (2009-2010, funded by the Aga Khan Foundation).