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Volume 670: debated on Wednesday 2 March 2005

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What long-term national economic strategies they support for Afghanistan which already have the approval of international donors; and how these strategies will relate to the national drug control programme. [HL 1526]

Securing Afghanistan's Future (SAF), a Government of Afghanistan and International Community endorsed strategy published in March 2004, puts forward a programme of investments to lay the foundations for the sustained economic growth needed to support a financially sustainable state that is capable of undertaking social development and poverty reduction. All DfID interventions are consistent with SAF as well as the Government's national development framework (NDF).Within this, the Government have a number of national priority programmes, which have the endorsement of numerous donors and government including DfID, through significant funding. These include the National Emergency Employment Programme (NEEP), the National Solidarity Program (NSP) and the Micro Finance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA). NEEP targets interventions in rural productive assets, mainly roads, irrigation schemes, social infrastructure and water drinking supplies. The NSP is the Afghan Government's flagship programme for community empowerment, local self-governance, and socio-economic development in rural areas. MISFA is the Apex Institution that provides micro-credit to rural Afghan individuals and communities. These interventions are grounded within the National Drug Control Strategy (NDCS) and are the major component of Pillar II, Alternative Livelihoods.

asked Her Majesty's Government:How they will help Afghanistan to recapture its former agricultural export markets; over what timescale; and which products will be the focus of export-led economic growth. [HL1527]

The economy of Afghanistan has long been agriculture-based. The agriculture sector has traditionally been subsistence-orientated, and the growing of cereal crops (mainly wheat) has dominated. Other crops and vegetables, such as grapes, apricots and almonds, have the potential to be exported. The production of cereal products is inversely linked to the production of the poppy. For Afghanistan to become a self-sustainable economy by 2015, economic growth must be in the order of 9 per cent per annum. This will come not only from an expansion in agricultural production but also from other sectors of the economy.Within the agriculture sector this growth will come from technical progress in the production of cereals and rebuilding the livestock sector, which produces milk and meat. Other sources of growth should include in the industrial sector, transport and power, including road construction through general economic growth and demand. In addition, there is significant potential in oil, gas and mining. Afghanistan has significant deposits of a number of minerals. The Government also hope that as a result of private investment the manufacturing sector will expand. Financial services and tourism are expected to expand in the medium-term.DfID is supporting these sectors in a number of ways, by providing £3 million to support Research in Alternative Livelihoods Fund as well as targeted interventions with the Ministry of Mines (£4 million) to assist with the assessment and marketing of mineral deposits in Afghanistan. DfID is supporting the Ministry of Commerce (£4 million) in developing a private sector development strategy as well as targeted interventions such as access to credit and markets in rural areas and for specific agricultural products, as well as providing services for business development.