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Three years of drought and more than 20 years of war have seriously disrupted agriculture in Afghanistan — a nation where more than two-thirds of the population live off the land.

As a first step in reviving the Afghan farming system, a consortium led by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), based in Aleppo, Syria and involving the Afghan government and relief organisations is working to replenish the country's seed stocks.

It has already delivered 3,500 tonnes of wheat seed to almost 70,000 farmers in 11 provinces of Afghanistan, and aims to supply 125,000 tonnes of seed over the next three years, in the hope that the nation will be self-sufficient again by 2007.

Reference: Nature 417, 7 (2002)

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