Published on 07 May 2012 at 01:49
The majority of Afghans are farmers and busy with agricultural activities and animal husbandry. However, the country imports a major part of its foodstuff and agricultural products from neighboring countries. Agricultural experts believe that lack of access to modern machinery and inadequate irrigation systems are the main reasons for decreasing agricultural products in Afghanistan.
The Afghan government in cooperation with the international community has been trying to improve the agriculture sector and to increase the country’s agricultural products over the past decade. But, Afghan farmers are still complaining about a lack of irrigation systems and modern agricultural machinery.
Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Talab village in Anjil District of Herat Province says that lack of refrigeration for maintaining agriculture products is the main challenge Afghan farmers face. “Due to the lack of refrigeration, Afghan farmers have to sell their products at low prices and more often have to carry them to Pakistan. Pakistani businessmen store these products in refrigerators for a while and then export them to Afghanistan with higher prices,” he said. “We have to buy our own products with very high prices.”
“This is a big disadvantage for Afghan farmers and badly affects their economic condition.”
Abdul Hakim Bazgar, a farmer in Roudat District of Nangarhar Province agrees. “Our products are bought with low prices and carried to Pakistan to be re-exported with higher prices,” he said.
Saeed Jamal, a resident of Sar-e-Jangal village in Siawaishan District of Herat Province believes that lack of cold storage is the main problem for Afghan farmers. “There are 320 villages in the district and the majority of the residents are farmers. But we have only one fridge with inadequate capacities,” he said.
Hussein Ali, a farmer in Bamian Province agrees. “During the potato season [the main product of the province] traders buy seven kilos of potatoes for 45 to 50 Afghanis (less than $1). When we estimate our expenses, seven kilos cost 35 to 40 Afghanis for the farmers,” he said. “But for replanting, we have to buy seven kilos of potatoes for 150 Afghanis.”
Majid Qarar, spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock accepts the challenge of cold storage. “The lack of electricity is the main barrier towards building refrigerated storage,” he said. “The Afghan government has adopted some measures to solve or at least decrease this problem.”
Qarar explains the Ministry’s ten year strategic plan for the development of the agriculture sector in Afghanistan. “Our ten year strategic plan includes four main fields such as safety of the foodstuff, growth of the agricultural economy, extension of irrigation systems and management of natural resources,” he said. “The ministry will consider the issue of refrigeration.”
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