345. Telegram 5067 From the Embassy in Afghanistan to the Department of State1 2

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  • Afghan Wheat Requirements
On August 14 Ambassador Neumann accompanied by Harvey responded to request from MinPlan Sarabi for appointment. Sarabi explained that RGA estimate of wheat deficit this year based on country-wide survey conducted by MinAg and more recent information on current harvest indicated that gap in prospect exceeded 500,000 tons instead of 350,000 tons estimated earlier. He said also other potential suppliers, indicating Canada, Australia but not mentioning USSR, apparently were going to be disappointing in their responses to Afghan appeal for concessional wheat supplies. Accordingly RGA wished to increase its request to USG from 100,000 tons indicated earlier to 250,000 tons on a grant basis.
Ambassador responded that USG had been somewhat slow in responding to initial RGA request but now emergency appeal of new government had brought quick and definitive response including authorization negotiating long-term credit for 100,000 [Page 2] tons. He urged fastest possible signature this Title I agreement both in order avoid delay in shipment because of probable October 1 strike, and as demonstration of real urgency of need which would be the best support for serious consideration of increased supply.
Sarabi indicated he understood this but RGA currently in extremely thin situation regarding foreign exchange with which finance ocean transport and inland transport. He urgently requested any possible U.S. help with these transport costs which total $4 million or more on 100,000 tons. We explained dim prospect for help on ocean transport but urged RGA approach Government of Pakistan as basis Pak rupee loan cover inland requirements analysis to justify further shipments and information on plans concerning work project and other direct distribution to poverty stricken population of drought areas as basis for Title II recommendation.
Malikyar visit reported State 148924 not repeat not reflection this additional request but simply result of his belief based on previous conversation that State/AID had not understood that original RGA 100,000 ton request was for grant. RGA here did not share this confusion but instructed him that if he thought he could influence USG to provide this wheat as grant, he should try.
In subsequent conversations with MinPlan staff and advisors we have emphasized need for above analysis as basis for mission recommendation. We expect these shortly. Stocks are low and need for additional supplies is widespread. Our current hunch is that if imports of at least 300,000 tons cannot be assured for FY 72 further sharp price increases, commercial panic and widespread suffering in the late winter and spring will result. Requirement for further U.S. supply will depend in large part on availabilities from USSR on which any available information would be appreciated ASAP. Anticipate mission recommendation by September 10.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 10 AFG. Limited Official Use. Sent as a joint Embassy/USAID message. Repeated to Islamabad, Moscow, and Rome for FODAG. A PL–480 agreement for 100,000 tons of wheat was signed in Kabul on August 23. The text of the agreement was transmitted to Washington on September 27 as an attachment to airgram A–110 from Kabul. (Ibid., AID (US) 15–4)
  2. Because of the impact of drought, Afghanistan increased its request for U.S. wheat to 250,000 tons and asked for it on a grant basis.