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The Killid Group
Fruit exports grow despite conflictWritten by Sediq Afghan
Saturday, 04 June 2011 11:11
Despite the ongoing conflict Kandahar farmers are making good progress in the cultivation and export of fruits, both fresh and dried. Figures of the officially registered trade shows an increase of 7950 tons in the export of fresh fruit and 400 tons in the export of dried fruit from the province.
Kandahar Chamber of Commerce says that the province exported 35,000 tons fresh and dried fruit to the world during 2010 whereas it was only 26,000 tons in 2009. The fruits exported include Kandahar's famous melon, water melon, pomegranate and grapes and also dry fruits including fig and almond. According to the Kandahar Chamber of Commerce, most of the exports were to Pakistan, India, Dubai, Germany and Iran via both land and air.
Abdul Baqi Khan, Director of the Kandahar Chamber of Commerce says that total a 3333 tons fresh fruit and 23884 tons dried fruit were exported from Kandahar to foreign countries during 2009. The exports last year represented a three-fold increase over the previous year. Khan points out the figures only represent the fruit exporters registered with them and the real trade might be several times that amount.
But Kandahar's farmers say that their crop would have been much more had the conflict not damaged their orchards. Baryalai, a farmer and a gardener of Arghandab District of Kandahar Province, says, "Last year was a good harvest. If there had been no war, our crops would have been even more. ." Baryalai also point to problems faced at the border crossings, especially Pakistan as do other farmers.
Abdul Khaliq, a resident of Panjwai District of Kandahar Province, says, "Our grape-loaded trucks are stopped along the border for a long time." Sharifullah, a farmer and the resident of Zheria District of Kandahar Province, says that they frequently face losses when the fruit rots because of the long stops and road blockage on the border to Pakistan. "We are not allowed to cross the border by Pakistani Police and they ask us for bribes."
Samiullah, a businessman of fruits in Kandahar, says that if the government solves those problems they have along the way, the level of exports will further increase. "Our trucks are usually stopped in Spin Boldak for various transit pretences, but the problems have not been solved."
Abdullah, a resident of Dand District of Kandahar, however feels that there are considerable gains despite the problems. "Considering the insecurity, it is an important achievement that we can still export fruits in these large quantities."
But Abdul Baqi, Kandahar Chamber of Commerce Director, says that they had built storages for preserving farmers' fruits in Khur Andam Area. "We have also met with some ISAF Officials and they have promised to help us with the resolution of the problem."