Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Optimism and Challenges of Agriculture Industry in Afghanistan

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Optimism and Challenges of  Agriculture Industry in Afghanistan

Agriculture and agriculture-related industries are fundamental means of livelihood in Afghanistan supporting around 80% of its population. The climate of Afghanistan is well suited for the cultivation of horticultural crops, and so Afghanistan is the geographic origin of many high-end crops like raisins, pomegranates, apple, pistachios, Chilgoza Pine, almonds, saffron and so on. Intensive commercial farming increases sustainable economic growth in rural areas, encourages competition, contributes to regional development and helps sustain the growth of private businesses related to it. Investment in agro-business and agro-processing will make a positive impact on the economic development of Afghanistan and will feed millions more people if the agricultural industry gets rid of current challenges.
Given the aforementioned role of agriculture in the country, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock held the Fifth National Agriculture Promotion Summit in Kabul with the presence of three thousand farmers from different parts of the country. During the National Summit, the President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani emphasized on Exporting Crop Products, saying that the work of every embassy, diplomat and minister should be marketing. If we cannot improve our marketing, we cannot increase our products. Mr. Ghani said the government is trying to pave the ground for livestock and farmers’ exports through the establishment of aerial corridor. Emphasizing on national exports, the president said that the key to economic independence is in the hands of farmers, especially women farmers and entrepreneurs.
In another part of his speech, the he emphasized on need of water management, saying that at least 20 billion cubic meters of water should be collected in the country, the foundation for water management has been laid down in the country but need to accelerate. He also added that the land should be the means of production, not the means of paperwork and usurpation. The president also emphasized the management of pastures, he said, we will give priority to nomads for creating modern livestock and the relevant ministries must take action in this regard. “Our main economic goal is to transform Afghanistan from the importing country into an exporting country of agriculture and food products,” he said. Mr Ghani assured farmers and livestock owners that the government is ready to take any possible steps to protect and strengthen the domestic market, and they should see themselves in a valuable chain.
According to reports, more than 80 percent of the country’s population is engaged in agriculture and livestock and the country’s economy is based on agriculture and livestock. Abdul Qayyum, a farmer from Herat province, said that in the past the farmers and gardeners had migrated to the cities because of lack of profit from their crops production, but due to the efforts made by the Ministry of Agriculture in standardization of this field they have returned to the villages and resumed their farming activities. He said farmers and gardeners would ask the president to create an unprofitable agricultural bank for farmers and give farmers and gardeners long-term loans, and our agricultural products should be exported under the name and address of Afghanistan.
Nasir Ahmad Durrani, the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock said that last year drought brought a lot of losses to the agricultural sector, but the Ministry of Agriculture, despite its limited facilities, managed to prevent from the great catastrophe. Mr. Durani emphasized on development and promotion of the agricultural sector and said: “Investors who invest in the agricultural sector, the Ministry of Agriculture will provide them with full cooperation and support.” He added that the ministry has prepared a long-term plan for 1398 and submitted to the presidency for further examination.
Thus Zafar Maroof, the chairman of Poultry Union of the country, also thanked the president for his attention on the poultry industry, saying the union has 10824 farms in Afghanistan and has invested $ 983 million in this field. He added that in this sector, 120 thousand workers have directly employed and 263 thousand are working indirectly, and the annual need for poultry meat is estimated at 295 thousand metric tons. The poultry Union of the country has managed to product 219 thousand metric tons of Poultry meat last year. And the annual need for eggs is 1160 million, and the Afghan Poultry Farm has been able to produce 600 million eggs. The chairman of the Poultry Union also raised the demand of poultry farmers to strengthen domestic poultry for poor women and to make land available for poultry development.
Then Mrs. Rouhana, a farmer of Surobi district of Kabul province, spoke and explained the demand and suggestions of women farmers to pay more attention to the agricultural sectors such as creating cold-rooms and marketing the agricultural products. As agricultural products is the essential part of Afghan economy, it is highly important for government or private investors to establish new cold roams and improve handling practices inside Afghanistan. Off season products can be offered to consumers fresh at premium prices; thus, cold rooms can be used as instruments to link consumers’ demand and organized supply.
According to experts, the process of purchasing, processing, storing and selling produce at a particular time and in a particular market involves an organized supply chain of goods, services and investment. Consumers can benefit from the cold room units because the produce is kept fresh longer (out of season). Producers benefit because farm gate prices tend to be higher and less volatile. Managers of the cold room storage facilities sell fresh produce at premium prices when seasonal supply has declined and have the option for exporting products if linkages are established with markets.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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