France to fund $18.7m projects; Japan aids NGO drive

Kabul, January 16, 2008 (PAN): The French government will launch agriculture and livestock projects in Afghanistan this year while Japan has pledged to fund a drive for public awareness about mines and unexploded ordnance.

The agriculture and livestock projects, to be executed by France, would cost $18.7 millions, said Muhammad Farooq Barakzai, head of Afghan-French Cooperation Office.

He told a press conference here on Wednesday $8.7 millions would be expended on distribution of improved seeds and building cold chains in Kabul, Parwan and Kapisa provinces.

A livestock insemination project would be implemented across the country at the cost of $10 millions, who stopped short of giving details of the plan, involving beekeeping and distribution of saplings for growing new orchards. Agriculture Minister Obaidullah Ramin, hailing the French support, urged a continuation of the aid.

French Ambassador in Kabul Regis Koetschet said developing Afghanistans agriculture sector was a priority of the French government and pledged for more assistance for it. The French government has provided $25 millions for the Afghan agriculture since 2002.

Also on Wednesday, Japan signed a contract of $50,000 to help improve public awareness about the dangers posed by landmine in eastern and southern parts of the country. The contract was inked between the Japanese ambassador to Afghanistan and a non-governmental demining organisation.

The project is aimed at promoting awareness about mines in Laghman, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika and Khost, the Japanese embassy said in a press statement. The NGO will prepare Pashto and Dari clips warning people about the silent killers.

There are 300,000 antipersonnel mines, 17500 anti-tank mines and seven million unexploded ordnances across the country, UN officials estimate. Japan has funded more than 15 demining projects in Afghanistan over last five years.