WASHINGTON - Observing that the country's business resides largely in agriculture and that the sector is growing fast, the visiting Afghan Agriculture Minister, Mohammad Asif Rahimi, on Tuesday urged the American business community to invest heavily in Afghan agriculture sector and benefit from it."Everyone's work and investment in Afghan agribusiness is starting to pay off," Rahimi told a meeting of American and Afghan businesses during the two-day annual conference organized by the US-Afghan Chamber of Commerce.
Noting that the countries agriculture sector is growing fast, Rahimi said the cashmere wool industry sold more than $9 million this year, and a new processing plant in Herat removes the coarse hairs and makes our cashmere command higher prices. "Afghan women are now knitting cashmere products for New York fashion-designers."
"Whatever the product, and whatever the agribusiness sector, Afghanistan is growing fast," he continued, adding Brazilians and Americans are eating Afghan raisins; Great Britain has discovered pomegranate-chocolate, made from Afghan juice-concentrate and Iraq has become a major trading partner for Afghan agricultural products.
A relatively small Afghan-government investment of $2 million has helped Afghan saffron industry spread to 15 provinces so far. New saffron-farms and saffron-factories, with women in bright uniforms and sanitary masks, look like something from Japan, he added.
Further two new meat-processing factories just opened in Kabul, and one each in Kunduz, Mazar and Herat, worth nearly $20 million dollars. They will soon be ready for private-sector management partners, he said.
Recently, fruit-juice-buyers from two of the world's biggest multinational companies – Nestle and Coca-Cola - came to Kabul. They want to buy so much Afghan juice that the factory-owner may need to build two more factories, the Minister said.
Rahimi even gave 10 top business tips to the businesses including trade in raisins, pistachio, cut-flower, table grapes, essential oils and medicinal herbs, poultry, and almond.
"Believe me - we will look back on this time as a great moment in our history, a time for economic growth. From the President and Cabinet on down to the civil-servant, the businessman or the man in the street, everyone is asking how we can become more self-reliant. The answer is usually the same from everyone. They say business," Rahimi concluded.