WASHINGTON -- March 22 -- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced the launch of the New York Partnership for a Green Afghanistan, an initiative to replant trees to revitalize Afghanistan's orchards, nurseries, woodlots and greenbelts. The people-to-people tree-planting program is designed to help Afghanistan regain its historic position as the "orchard of Central Asia" and support Afghans as they rebuild their orchard, vineyard and forestry businesses.
The announcement was made in conjunction with a tree planting ceremony that took place in Kabul, Afghanistan earlier today. The ceremony, which was attended by President Hamid Karzai, marked the beginning of a major tree planting campaign in the country.
The group is organized under the auspices of the Global Partnership for Afghanistan (GFPA), founded soon after 9/11 by New Yorkers and Afghan Americans in recognition of the tragedies suffered by both countries. To lead the project launch, the Global Partnership for Afghanistan is developing family-owned orchards, nurseries and woodlot businesses encompassing an initial 70,000 trees. Afghan farmers will begin planting today following the completion of demonstration orchards and nurseries last year.
The Partnership will include private citizens and organizations from non-profits and corporations to educational institutions across the state and beyond to support Afghanistans economic and environmental development.
In making the announcement today, Senator Clinton confirmed that The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, American Forests and International Paper had all signed on as initial partners in this important effort.
As part of the Partnership, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) will immediately reach out to Kabul University to support a university-to-university exchange for forestry faculty and students. Additionally, SUNY-ESF has donated 10,000 willows that can be used as a woody crop for fuel and bio-energy. The Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will contribute expertise in the areas of fruit breeding, production and disease and insect management, vital to the revitalization of Afghan fruit farms. American Forests, a nonprofit conservation organization, is seeking support from corporate and individual sponsors for this critical effort.
Senator Clinton also announced the creation of a dedicated fund coordinated by GPFA, a NY-based nonprofit organization, and urged supporters to send contributions for spring tree planting.
After more than a quarter-century of war, nearly 28 million Afghans are struggling to rebuild their livelihoods and communities in the face of destroyed homes, roads and infrastructure, a devastated natural environment and a shattered economy, said Senator Clinton, who recently returned from Afghanistan. New Yorkers want to support this struggling democracy. The New York Partnership for a Green Afghanistan is an important step toward helping Afghans regain self-sufficiency, rebuild a viable economy and achieve political stability.
Known as the orchard of Central Asia in the 1980s, the country was recognized throughout the region for its harvest and export of quality fruits. Today, Afghanistan has lost the large majority of its orchards and vineyards. Once a net agricultural exporter, the country is now a net importer. This effort is another step in helping revitalize the country from the ground up, said Senator Clinton.
I am so pleased that we have brought so many New Yorkers together to help Afghanistan and this is just the beginning. New Yorks farmers, growers and research institutions are world-class. They have so much to contribute to this campaign through their knowledge of forestry and their growing and research techniques, Senator Clinton said. I am so pleased that they can bring this expertise to not only help deliver food, income and a range of vital environmental benefits to the people of Afghanistan, but to help restore lives and livelihoods.
I have personally witnessed the generosity of the American people as I revisit the Afghan countryside, said GPFA Co-chair Professor M. Ishaq Nadiri. With US support, Afghanistan is rebuilding roads, infrastructure and security. Now we need to help Afghans restore livelihoods. Acres of scorched earth stand and dried fields stand where Afghans once cultivated flourishing orchards and vineyards, and the country struggles today to feed its population. Professor Nadiri serves as senior economic advisor to President Karzai in Kabul and is the Jay Gould Professor of Economics at New York University.
The leadership of Senator Clinton in launching this people-to-people initiative will provide lasting benefits to Afghanistan whose people so urgently need the creativity, expertise and financial resources that America can deliver, said Prof. Nadiri. Through the Global Partnerships work, we know first-hand how Afghans deeply value our concrete assistance. No one better embodies this spirit than Senator Hillary Clinton in launching this effort.