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The Killid Group
Distress SaleWritten by Qale Nawi
Saturday, 01 October 2011 09:37
Farmers in Herat and Zarghon are worried about the bumper grape harvests this year. There are not enough cold storages in both provinces to store the fruit and other perishable produce.
Bashir Ahmad Ahmadi, deputy director in the department of agriculture, Herat, says there are a total of 12 private and two state-run cold storages, both owned by the department of agriculture but they are closed because there is no electricity.
An estimated 135 metric tonnes of grapes are likely to be harvested this year in Herat. More than 7,600 acres of land have been planted with 48 different varieties of grapes, says Ahmadi. "We don't have (enough) cold storages for fruits and vegetables," he adds.
Juma Gul, 48, grows grapes in Engel district. "Despite drought, grape productivity is the best. But where is the storage facility? All grapes would be spoiled and wasted." Abdul Azim, 50, who owns 10 acres of vineyards, worries that farmers may again be forced to make distress sales. "Last year we sold a crate (7 kg of grapes) at 20 Afs (less than half a USD). If there is no market, we suffer."
Wakil Ahmad Mohammadi, a fruit seller, points out that Herati grapes are exported to many countries including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and India.
Is it the central or provincial government's responsibility to protect the interests of farmers? Local officials in Ghor and Badghis provinces blame the central government for not paying enough attention to farmers' interests. Any improvement in agriculture will reflect positively on people's welfare.
Abdul Hai Khatibi, spokesman of the Ghor provincial government, says: "Authorities in the central government never pay attention to agriculture in Ghor province despite the fact that most people here are agriculturists."
According to Sharifuddin Majidi, spokesman of Badghis, setting up of cold storages would be an "important step" forward in meeting the needs of the province's rural population.
In Herat, agriculture expert Abdullah Ghafori appealed to the international community to assist efforts to improve farming and people's livelihoods. "Overall farm production has reduced compared to last year," he says.