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Planting Afghan Sahebi Grape Vine in Napa Valley

To strengthen bridges between Afghanistan and the United States, Ambassador Jawad took part in a grapevine planting ceremony on the grounds of COPIA on April 16. COPIA is a non-profit discovery center in Napa Valley, California. The vine planted by Ambassador Jawad was a direct descendent from the collection of Afghan root stalk that acclaimed viticulturist, the late UC Davis professor and grape geneticist, Harold Olmo brought back and studied from Afghanistan in 1948.

The ceremony was co-hosted by Roots of Peace, a non-profit organization that removes land-mines in post-conflict countries and restores the land and livelihood of local communities through sustainable agriculture solutions. Roots of Peace has trained over 10,000 Afghan farmers to grow grapes and raisins—alternative agricultural crops to poppies—and 100,000 landmines and unexploded ordinances have been removed from the once fertile Shomali Plains. In Afghanistan, over 60 people a month are killed or maimed by landmine or unexploded ordnance. Approximately ten million landmines lurk beneath Afghanistan’s often stunning terrain.

The Ambassador spoke about the important work being done by Roots of Peace, UC Davis and other organizations to restore Afghanistan’s agricultural magnificence. “I am proud of the historic partnership between California and Afghanistan and the tremendous goodwill that exists in Napa Valley for the fertile plains of Afghanistan,” he said. “For over fifty years farmers and specialists from the bread-basket of the United States have traveled halfway across the world to Afghanistan. I hope to communicate our gratitude today as I plant this symbol of our continued partnership, the Sahebi grapevine, one of the best grapes in the world, from my hometown of Kandahar.”

The ceremony was also attended by a number of faculty, students and officials from UC Davis. UC Davis has partnered with the University of Kabul and the Ministries of Higher Education and Agriculture for the “Afghanistan Agricultural Initiative.” UC Davis faculty have worked extensively in Afghanistan since 2003, holding workshops to train Afghanistan-native agricultural specialists on issues such as orchard management and tree crops, post-harvest technology, agricultural business management, and analyzing farming systems. Teams from UC Davis have assisted farmers in growing crops such as vegetables, almonds, walnuts, pistachios and grapes.

“Twenty years ago, who could have imagined that farmers in Napa Valley would develop such strong bonds with farmers in Afghanistan? The exchange of expertise and hospitality is another example of the people-to-people contacts that define the close friendship between our two nations,” said the Ambassador. He highlighted the central role that the Northern California Afghan Diaspora is playing in revitalizing the country through a combination of investment, charity work, and exchange programs.

“This grapevine is a wonderful symbol of the shared heritage between farmers from our two countries. It will serve as a permanent reminder for all visitors to Copia of the seeds we have in common and the hope that peace may be planted from Napa Valley to Afghanistan,” said Heidi Kuhn, Founder & CEO of Roots of Peace.

“We are very honored to host this esteemed group of dignitaries,” said Arthur Jacobus, Copia’s President. “Their message and efforts for peace serve to inspire the world.”

Following the ceremony at COPIA, Ambassador Jawad and his wife Shamim were honored with a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Legislature and an official Proclamation from San Rafael Mayor Albert J. Boro for their continued work on the behalf of peace-making in collaboration with Roots of Peace.

For more information, please see the Roots of Peace and COPIA websites

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