KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Despite drought and water scarcity, the pomegranate yield in southern Kandahar province is high this season, with 18,000 tons of the fruit going abroad so far.
Abdul BaqiBina, Kandahar Chamber of Commerce and Industry head, told Pajhwok Afghan News that despite hit hard by drought this year, Kandahar orchards produced a high amount of pomegranates – a reason of high exports of the fruit this ongoing year.
He said 18,000 tons of pomegranates worth $4 million had been exported so far from Kandahar to foreign countries this year.
He said the bulk of the fruit was exported to Pakistan and some to India and the UAE. But domestic demand was higher compared to the exports, he added.
Bina said the bumper pomegranate produce was a good news, but the lack of more export destinations was a problem.
He said Afghanistan had recently signed air corridor agreements with a number of countries, something he called a great achievement, but said the process needed to be accelerated.
Bina said Afghanistan’s fresh fruits’ exports still hugely relied on Pakistan and also complained about lack of protection equipment for fresh fruits. He said they lacked cold storages to keep fresh fruits for a long time.
“If the government builds cold storages, it would help gardeners and traders keep fresh fruits preserved for a long time and offer them to the market when the demand is high”, he added.
Horticulturists and traders also say despite drought in Kandahar this year, the pomegranate production is high against expectation.
Haji Niamatullah, a pomegranate gardener in Tabin area of Arghandab district, told Pajhwok that despite lack of water this year, pomegranate produce was high after the trees were protected from pests.
Haji Aminullah, who has leased his pomegranate garden to a trader against two million afghanis, he was happy for the high yield of pomegranate as he earned more this time compared to the past. He said the reason of high pomegranate produce was the fruits’ protection from pests this year.
However, Aminullah said the government should help horticulturists and resolve their water scarcity problem by building dams and taking other measures.
Haji Nanai Agha, head of Fresh Fruits’ Traders Association in Kandahar, said that on average, 30 to 35 trucks of pomegranates were exported to foreign countries on a daily basis since the fruit ripened.
He said traders faced no problem in exporting fresh fruits this year. Chamber of commerce and industry officials this year met with Pakistani diplomats about the fresh fruits export to that country and problems in this regard had mostly been resolved, he said.
Dozens of trucks loaded with fresh fruits are daily sent to Pakistan and India from Kandahar province, Agha added.
On the other hand, Kandahar agriculture officials also said the pomegranate produce was good in terms of quality and quantity this year in Kandahar.
Sayed Hafizullah Sayedi, provincial agriculture director, said that 150,000 tons of pomegranates were collected from Kandahar gardens this year, compared to 125,000 tons last year.
He said pomegranate gardens were expanded to 8,000 hectares more land in Kandahar in cooperation with local people and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock in recent years.
Sayedi said currently more than 10,000 horticulturists were engaged in pomegranate farming and harvests in Kandahar.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock created new pomegranate gardens on 250 acres of land in Kandahar this year.