The Government of Afghanistan (GoA) recognizes international trade as an important factor in growth, for which it has prioritized trade and regional cooperation as critical elements in its economic development strategy.

GoA is aimed at unlocking the potential of the country’s export sector evident by the accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, changing the trade environment requires an understanding of issues and implementations of reforms through institutionalization.

The agriculture sector has dominated Afghanistan’s economy and has a huge potential for further development. For example, the country shipped an estimated US$708.7 million worth of goods around the globe in 2019. This included dry fruits and nuts – such as figs – worth US$364.7 million (51.5% of total exports).

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) has focused to strengthen and improve their Sanitary and Phytosanitary Systems (SPS) for agricultural commodities and export promotion. But a gap of harmonization of standards and regulations, and a need in technical and institutional capacities, have augmented the need to develop a reliable system to meet WTO’s SPS standards for export.

In this regard, CABI, along with US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) and USAID Kabul Mission, are working in close collaboration to support GoA and improve the understanding and capacity of Afghanistan’s regulatory agencies to comply with SPS international standards.

The CABI team conducted an interview with Mr Abdul Ghafoor Babori as part of their research (Credit: CABI).

CABI conducted a baseline study to determine the current levels of SPS capability and compliance within MAIL’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Directorate (PPQD). For this purpose, a structured questionnaire and semi-structured interviews were organized to gather data and plan an effective training agenda that can contribute to building Afghanistan’s SPS science-based systems.

The baseline study encompasses all aspects of resources, talent, procedures, practice, and constraints related to SPS compliance in Afghanistan. Detailed technical and skills audit of each segment of the PPQD were also undertaken to determine core mandate, organization strategy, range of services, technical staff structure and capacities, and organizational SWOT analysis. The results of the baseline study will help to identify training and capacity building needs of PPQD for future project activities.

Additional Information

Main image: Figures by Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) show that Afghanistan exported figs valued almost US$47 million in the last 10 months of 2019 (Credit: Pixabay).


Dr Muzammil Farooq

Project Manager


Zakria Faizi



For more information, please contact:
MaryLou Carlson

Dr Muzammil Farooq
+92 (0)51 8434979

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