Left Menu
Development News Edition

Afghan pomegranate growers squeezed as prices drop


Afghan pomegranate growers squeezed as prices drop
Image Credit: Pixabay

Pomegranate farmers in southern Afghanistan -- where growing the juicy fruit is an important alternative to opium poppy production -- say they are feeling the squeeze this year, with business blemished by chilly weather, pests and export woes. The prized crimson fruit, globally renowned for its reputed health benefits, is a point of pride for Afghan farmers, particularly in Kandahar province, where luscious pomegranates the size of small melons dangle from trees.

Every autumn, Afghans start drinking pomegranate juice as the fruit bursts into the season. Vendors pile carts high with gravity-defying pomegranate pyramids and offer fresh-squeezed beverages. But some Kandahar farmers say a fungal infection and destructive insects are taking a bite out of this season's harvest, and they accuse neighboring Pakistan of new tariffs that are hurting the export market.

Haji Abdul Manan, who has been growing fruit in southern Kandahar for about 30 years, said a springtime cold snap damaged pomegranate flowers, impacting about 40 percent of his crop. Problems also came from "lice, flies and a fungal disease," he added, likening a type of greenfly to a natural disaster that had ruined more than 100 of the orb-shaped fruits daily.

"It is the duty of the Afghan government to spray all the gardens in Kandahar and to protect the pomegranates from diseases, but the government is not doing anything," Manan complained. Apart from its sweet flavor, fans point to pomegranates' purported health benefits including high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants that are said to help protect the body.

"Kandahar's pomegranates are the world's best for flavor, color, and several times Kandahar's pomegranates came first in competitions abroad," Nasrullah Zaheer, the head of Kandahar's chamber of commerce, told AFP. In Kandahar, a medium-sized pomegranate goes for the equivalent of about 15 US cents, but by the time the fruit reach Kabul they cost about three times that.

Zaheer and several other farmers claimed Pakistan has this year imposed hefty tariffs on pomegranate imports which, despite a drop in yield in some parts of Afghanistan, has led to an oversupply in the domestic market and sharp price drops. "It is not fair to increase it," Zaheer said. "That is why it is the traders are facing harm." But the Pakistan embassy in Kabul denied such a drastic measure had been taken, saying Pakistan had raised duties only slightly because "Afghan exporters consistently understate the value of pomegranates and fruits".

Muhammad Hafeez, a fruit and vegetable seller at a market in Islamabad, said pomegranate supply from Kandahar had not been impacted. "The supply is in bulk and the quality is good," Hafeez told AFP.

Abdul Baqi Beena, deputy director of the Kandahar chamber of commerce, said about 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes of pomegranates were exported annually, including to India, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. For years, Afghanistan and international donors tried to wean farmers from growing opium poppies by encouraging alternatives such as fruit crops.

But those efforts often failed as drug smugglers offered lucrative prices that normally far exceed the income from traditional agriculture. The US Agency for International Development previously supported the farming of high-value crops, including pomegranates, as an alternative to opium production, but in recent years has shifted its focus to helping build export markets and supporting Afghan farmers that way.

"There is strong regional demand for high-value Afghan products that generate sufficient profit to justify export cost," Daniel Corle, USAID team lead for development outreach and communications, said in an email. "These include pomegranates, pine nuts, apricots, spices, gems, marble, and carpets, among others."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION/BLOG/INTERVIEW

Sentiment Analysis of Twitter users during COP 25: Governments losing trust on Climate Action

Sentiment analysis of Twitter users during COP25 in Madrid, being held from December 2-13, shows widespread fear on climate change due to global warming but almost no trust on governments in meeting the emission targets. In the analysis the...

These innovators are making humanitarian response more efficient

These alarming trends prompt a call for the world to not only address the ongoing crisis but also to adopt innovative approaches to fulfill the growing humanitarian needs in such emergencies. ...

Hyderabad Encounter: A sentiment analysis of public mood on day of encounter

Sentiment analysis of twitter users revealed that they showered salutes on Hyderabad police for eliminating alleged gang rapists of the veterinary doctor but only a few believe in cops version of successive events leading to encounter....

Hyderabad Encounter: Time to review modern judiciary and restore people’s confidence

Its probably for the first time in the history of independent India, the parliamentarians, chief ministers and ministers in the Union and State governments are openly supporting an encounter. This indicates the people from top to bottom hav...

Videos

Latest News

Deloitte Haskins and Sells LLP failed to comply with auditing stds: NFRA on IFIN statutory audit

Flagging concerns, the National Financial Reporting Authority NFRA has said that Deloitte Haskins and Sells LLP failed to comply with auditing standards with respect to statutory audit of ILFS Financial Services Ltd IFIN, according to an of...

Flights resume at Libya's Mitiga airport in Tripoli

Mitiga, the only functioning airport in Libyas capital Tripoli, resumed flight operations on Thursday after a nearly 3-12-month break, and is expected to be fully operational by the end of this month, the transportation minister said.The ai...

HIGHLIGHTS-EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss climate, budget, Brexit

European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for a talk on climate, the EUs long-term budget, Brexit, the euro zone and Russia sanctions, among others.Here are comments made by them on Thursday ahead of the summit. ...

U'khand: Schools, Anganwadis in Chamoli, Dehradun, Uttarkashi to be closed tomorrow

All government and private schools, along with Anganwadi Centres in the Chamoli and Dehradun districts of Uttarakhand will remain closed on Friday following heavy snowfall in the region. The District Magistrates of both districts issued not...

Give Feedback