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The Killid Group
Modern freightWritten by Nasrat Ilham and Ah. Masood Nikzad
Saturday, 15 October 2011 10:18
Efforts are underway to add value to fruit and vegetable exports.
The profit margin of farmers and traders would go up sharply if the goods were transported in refrigerator trucks, say officials.
Take the case of grapes. "If grapes are packed in wooden boxes and taken to Pakistan the trader earns 3 percent. But if they were taken in freezer trucks directly to markets in India and the Middle East the gain will increase by 33 percent," says Mohammad Asif Rahimi, minister of agriculture.
The ministry has been providing financial help to companies to modernise the packaging process.
Ministry spokesman, Majid, says: "If we have a good system of packing the gain will be considerable."
Abdul Ghani from Maidan Wardak province says farmers in his neighbourhood have been packing apples in pouches to avoid bruises. "It is a fact that proper packing increases the value many times. We are happy farmers and traders are coordinating on this."
Shah Mohammad, 55, who lives in Tagab district, Kapisa province, is grateful to the government for providing refrigerator trucks for perishable produce.
However, farmers want the government to build more cold rooms for storage. Wahidullah, 33, a farmer in Paktia province, says if there were more cold rooms "we could bargain for better prices". Now "we are compelled to sell at half price to traders because we don't have storage facilities. It is the contractors who gain," he laments.
The new systems have to be streamlined still. Haji Mohamad Moyeen, head of Mateen Nezambeg Fruits Export and Import Company says they have lost money this season.
"We were selling one ser (7kg) of grapes at 800-1000 Pakistani rupees before. But this year we used refrigerator trucks and had to sell at 200-300 rupees because the cooling was poor."
Ghulam Ghaws who is head of Elias Abas Fruit Export and Import Company says the government has to make sure the trucks are available. "If the government can provide refrigerator trucks in the season for apples, grapes, pomegranates and melons it can be useful. But (this season) when they were most needed the trucks were not available."