FILE PHOTO: Rice farm

Afghan Ministry for Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) on Tuesday said the country is moving towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice production as 66 per cent of rice has been produced inside the country.

According to a statement, Afghanistan produced over 383,000 tons of rice in 2019, up to nine per cent increase, compared to 2018.

“The country has now become self-sufficient by 66 per cent in rice production in 2019 as a result of using improved seeds, modern machinery, providing technical assistance to farmers by government and the favourable weather,” the statement read.

A survey, jointly conducted by the Central Statistics Office and MAIL, indicates a sharp increase in paddy cultivation in the country.

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The total amount of rice-fields in 18 out of the country’s 34 provinces has increased from 116,000 hectares in 2018 to 128,000 hectares 2019.

Afghanistan usually imports 588,000 tons of rice yearly, and with the noticeable growth in rice production, the country has become self-sufficient in 2019.

Therefore, the rice import would fall to enable the country to earn $65 million in 2019.

Rice and wheat flour are two main food sources in Afghanistan.

For the Afghan citizens, the bumper harvest in the rice production is a rare piece of good news in a country critically affected by drought, conflict and high food prices and where millions of people are pushed into food insecurity.