'Interesting' in that it appears that whichever aid agency bought this stuff either appears to have no idea of the dual use possibilities, or simply didn't care.
Now, that is interesting, because that leads on to a whole range of issues, like-
Were the aid agencies briefed that fertiliser=bomb in the wrong hands?
If they were, then why did they go ahead?
If they weren't, then why not?
Why weren't they stopped when the stuff started showing up in Taliban hands?
(And, being really cynical-Who had the contract to bring the stuff in?)
Not wishing to bore for England, but there are lots of different fertilisers out there, and not all of them go bang. So-Why bring in one that does?
The local market price is distorted, due to so much being imported, but even if it is a bit more expensive for the agencies to hand out non-exploding fertiliser, doesn't it pay for itself in fewer IEDS, less wreckage, and fewer bodies? Not to mention reducing the increasing amounts of water pollution caused by untrained farmers chucking the stuff on regardless?
Not a lot of joined up thinking or policy making there, methinks.
Pakistanâs Daily Times reported that on 22 January Afghan President Karzai decreed a ban on the sale and possession of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which is used in most of the Talibanâs homemade bombs. âThe import, production, possession, use, purchase and sale of ammonium nitrate fertilizer is banned,â the presidentâs decree said.
According to the decree, anyone in possession of the fertilizer must hand it over to branches of the Ministry of Agriculture within 30 days. The Interior and Finance ministries are to train police and customs employees to detect, recognize and seize the chemical, which is imported primarily from Pakistan.
The Pakistani fertilizer factories face a dip in sales. Emerging Asia published a study in January 2009 that quoted the CNFA Country Director who estimated Afghan fertilizer demand at 1 million metric tons, and imports of fertilizer from Pakistan at 500,000 metric tons. One estimate is that only about 5% of the imported ammonium nitrate is used in Afghan agriculture. The Emerging Asia study reported Afghan farmers commonly use urea or DAP, so the total ban should have little impact on agriculture.
This will be difficult to enforce because of corruption at every link in the fertilizer supply chain that must include government officials, politicians, security officers and local businessmen and warlords. The ban is an overdue first step. Assuming the government can cut the imports, this is tonightâs good news.
(Note: CNFA is a non-profit international development organization dedicated to improving the income of farmers and rural communities in less developed countries.)