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Grain Research and Innovation

logo of GRAIN, which incorporates wheat stalk

Grain Research and Innovation (GRAIN), a five-year project aimed at bolstering Afghanistan's wheat sector, is funded by a $19.5 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development. For updates on GRAIN, follow us on Facebook.

GRAIN1.jpgProject Overview

Launched in the spring of 2017, GRAIN is slated to enhance the productivity, profitability and climate resilience of wheat-based systems in Afghanistan. The project will build the capacity of Afghan researchers to conduct and manage research on wheat and cereals, and sets the stage for development of an in-country wheat research system that responds to the needs of farmers and the private sector.

Afghanistan's annual wheat yields are modest in comparison to bordering countries, but research shows that despite the nation's mountainous terrain and arid to semi-arid climate, there's potential to significantly increase production. GRAIN will facilitate adoption of improved wheat varieties, agronomic practices, post-harvest management, and a stronger connection with the private seed sector.

GRAIN is led by Frederik Derksen, of MSU's Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition; Anne Schneller, of MSU's Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics; and Corey Fortin, Senior Program Manager. 


Why Wheat?

According to USAID, Afghanistan has the world's highest annual per capita wheat consumption. Approximately 60 percent of the nation's daily caloric intake comes from wheat. In 2015, 40 percent of the country's wheat supply was imported. But based on Afghanistan's projected population growth, wheat production must increase 20 to 28 percent in the next five years to meet consumption demands.

Accounting for up to 40 percent of Afghanistan's gross domestic product, agriculture is critical to Afghanistan's food security and is a driver of economic growth. With 70 percent of cultivated land planted in wheat each year, an improvement in wheat production will advance the nation's food security and generate local economic opportunities.

Scholarship Opportunity

Afghanistan's Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the GRAIN Project at Michigan State University, is pleased to announce post-graduate training scholarships in fields related to wheat research. The program will support long-term training of agricultural scientists at the master's and doctoral levels at selected universities outside Afghanistan. This is a major effort to increase the number of agricultural scientists and strengthen research capacity related to wheat in Afghanistan, in particular in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), the Agriculture Research Institute of Afghanistan (ARIA) and selected units of the Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (DAIL). The scholarships will provide full support for doctoral and master's study beginning in August 2018. Training programs will cover up to 2.5 years of courses and research for master's students, and up to 4 years for PhD students. The degree training programs will likely be granted from institutions in India or Kenya. At this time, it is anticipated that study will not take place in the United States.

Applications for Cohort 1 closed on February 1, 2018.  Please check this website in the future for additional scholarship opportunities funded by GRAIN. In the meantime you may contact us at ISP.grainapply(at)

To read more about USAID projects in Afghanistan please visit