ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program and USDA officials joined Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Eklil Ahmad Hakimi and Afghan business leader Abdul Ghafoor for a signing ceremony to mark the launch of the Oil Crops Growers Association of Afghanistan, a new trade association to promote oil crops for both food and feed in Afghanistan. The event was held at the Afghan Embassy in Washington on Jan. 20.
"Agriculture, not only historically, but also traditionally, is the main component of our economic growth," said Ambassador Hakimi. "I’m sure that soybeans will contribute not only to the economy and agricultural development of Afghanistan, but more importantly, they will have a positive implication for the security of our country."
Ghafoor is the newly-minted chairman of OCGAA, which includes 11 founding members representing different sectors of the agricultural value chain. These members will plan and implement the initiative through a USDA Food for Progress three-year soy value-chain project with WISHH.
"ASA’s WISHH program is pleased to be part of this landmark USDA effort to assist Afghanistan in starting a trade association that uses oilseed crops to develop their food and feed industries," said WISHH Chairman David Iverson. "This work offers great potential for the production of animal feed for poultry and livestock as well as human foods."
WISHH and partners are implementing the multi-faceted Soybeans in Agricultural Renewal of Afghanistan (SARAI) project that uses soybeans to benefit Afghan farmers, food processors, and rural communities as well as women and children. In 2011, SARAI helped open Afghanistan’s first soybean processing facility. SARAI also provides a total of 80 metric tons of defatted soy flour, 13,750 metric tons of soybean oil and 6,000 metric tons of soybeans over three years. Over the life of the program and all of its activities, the project will benefit more than 405, 000 Afghan people.