The Office of Agricultural Affairs estimates calendar year (CY) 2012 certified wheat seed production at 35,000 MT, a 94 percent increase from CY 2010.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
GAIN Report Number:
The Seed Industry in Afghanistan
The Office of Agricultural Affairs estimates calendar year (CY) 2012 certified wheat seed production at 35,000
MT, a 94 percent increase from CY 2010, which is attributed to the establishment of new Private Seed
Enterprises (PSEs) and increased demand for quality wheat seeds in the country. The total demand for wheat
seeds are at 300,000 metric tons (MT), corn seeds at 11,000 MT, and vegetable seeds at 500 MT for CY 2011.
The primary source of seeds for Afghan farmers is through their own farm-saved seeds. Afghanistan imports only
a small quantity of vegetable seeds from large multinational companies.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) reports total demand for wheat seed at
300,000 metric tons (MT), corn seed at 11,000 MT, and vegetable seed at 500 MT for calendar year (CY) 2011.
Afghanistan’s seed sector has been reestablished with the assistance of the international community. Projects
include the renovation of agriculture research stations and seed testing laboratories and seed enterprise
development. The formal seed sector in Afghanistan focuses primarily on wheat seed because wheat is the main
staple crop, accounting for approximately 50 percent of food expenditures and 70 percent of all cereal
consumption among Afghans. Consecutive years of drought over the past 10 to 15 years have reduced the
availability of quality wheat seed.
Afghanistan’s formal seed sector produced 62 MT of breeder seed, 762 MT of foundation seed, 24,136 MT of
certified wheat seed, and 3,294 registered seed varieties in CY 2011. The Office of Agricultural Affairs estimates
CY 2012 certified wheat seed production at 35,000 MT, a 94 percent increase from CY 2010, which is attributed
to the establishment of new Private Seed Enterprises (PSEs) and increased demand for quality wheat seeds in the
country. The primary source of seed for Afghan farmers is through their own farm-saved seeds.
Source: Agriculture Prospect Report MAIL-Afghanistan 2011.
Afghanistan follows a four generation system of seed multiplication and has used four classes for seed
production: breeder seed, foundation seed, registered seed, and certified seed. The Agriculture Research Institute
of Afghanistan (ARIA) is responsible for the production of breeder seed while the Improved Seed Enterprise
(ISE), a unit under MAIL is mandated for the foundation seed and registered seed. PSEs are associated with the
Afghanistan National Seed Organization (ANSOR) and are responsible for the multiplication and production of
certified seed. ANSOR is the national seed association for all commercial seed producers in the country. There
are more than 100 PSEs operating under ANSOR with a combined production capacity of approximately 50,000
MT. Donor agencies such as the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), the International
Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry
Areas (ICARDA), and the European Union (EU) play an important role in the Afghan seed industry as they assist
with variety improvement, seed production, and seed enterprise development.
During the last ten years, almost all certified wheat seed produced by PSEs were sold to the Ministry of
Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock and donor agencies for wheat seed distribution programs where farmers
were given seeds and fertilizers at subsidized rates. Despite significant production of certified wheat seed, a
small quantity of seed is purchased directly by farmers in commercial markets.
 Please note that the Afghan calendar year begins on March 21 and ends March 20. For example, CY 2011 runs from
March 21, 2011 to March 20, 2012.
Seed Pricing and Packaging
PSEs produce certified wheat seed through their contract growers located throughout Afghanistan. Seeds are then
cleaned through air-screen cleaners and stored in 50 kilogram (kg) bags in the PSE’s storage facilities. Initially
prices for wheat seed were set by the National Seed Board, but after CY 2011 PSEs were allowed to determine
wheat prices on a competitive basis. In CY 2011, the cost of 50 kg of certified wheat seed ranged from 30 to 35
U.S. Dollars. According to an FAO survey on the Afghan seed market, farmers buy only 31 percent of their
required seeds from formal and informal sources, while more than 60 percent of farmers used their farm-saved
seeds for cultivation. Afghan farmers buy certified seeds either from PSEs or other suppliers within their
Seed Certification and Variety Approval
The National Seed Secretariat under the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock is the core institution
for coordinating seed industry functions in Afghanistan. The seed secretariat consists of the National Seed Board
and its affiliated bodies: ARIA, Variety Release Committee (VRC), and ANSOR.
Afghanistan obtains advanced breeding lines from international agriculture research centers such as CIMMYT
and ICARDA. These breeding lines are tested and evaluated in different agro-ecological zones for adaptation and
stability. The best breeding lines are then selected for breeder seeds under national trials. MAIL’s Agriculture
Research Institute produces breeder seed on their research farms through Improved Seed Enterprises (ISEs). ISEs
and PSEs have two different set ups in the seed development sector; the first is a public organization under MAIL
that obtains breeder seed from ARIA and produces both foundation seed and registered seed, while the later is a
private business that purchase foundation seed or registered seed from the ISEs to produce certified seed through
their contract growers.
The Afghanistan Seed law specifies conditions for seed imports and exports e.g., procedures and obligations.
Under the Afghanistan Seed Law, seed imported for the purpose of seed multiplication, which is not listed in the
National List of Varieties of Afghanistan (NLVA), must be tested for adaptation at MAIL research stations under
different agro-ecological conditions for at least four years before it will be allowed into Afghanistan for
commercial use. Imported seeds that have already been tested and evaluated in Afghanistan and listed in the
NLVA, does not require research trails, and only needs germination, purity, and quarantine certificates at the port
of entry. Imported seeds for which there is no predetermined certification scheme only requires germination and
physical purity certificates and labels.
Afghanistan applies a 2.5 percent tariff rate on seed imports.
According to the ICARDA seed focus report, there was a certain amount of wheat seed imported from Pakistan
used for seed distribution programs by commercial traders in CY 2002, for which data is unavailable.
Afghanistan imports only a small quantity of vegetable seeds from large multinational companies. The
following trade matrix provides information on vegetable seeds imported into Afghanistan.
Reporting Countries Export Statistics (Partner Country: Afghanistan)
Commodity: 120991, Vegetable Seeds For Sowing
Calendar Year: 2009 - 2011
Quantity % Change
Reporting Country Unit
2009 2010 2011 2011/2010
Reporting Total kg 23,060 82,529 22,073 -73.25
Netherlands kg 11,100 30,400 7,500 -75.33
Iran kg 7,150 - 2,000 375
United States kg 2,456 - -
United Arab Emirates kg 1,535 27,641 2,074 -92.5
France kg 400 1,200 5,700
Thailand kg 307 2,603 999 -61.62
India kg 100 385 -
South Korea kg 12 - - -100
Italy kg - 20,300 - -100
Denmark kg - - 3,800
Source: Global Trade Information System