MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Kochis in northern Balkh province claim their meadows measuring thousands of acres have been grabbed by powerful individuals and local commanders.
As a result, the nomadic community complains, its livestock farming has declined by 50 percent.
The Balkh Provincial Council (PC) acknowledges the problems being faced by Kochis. The council also confirms the grassland belonging to nomads has been usurped.
Around 22,000 Kochi families live in seven of the 14 districts of Balkh and their main occupation is cattle farming.
Haji Syeda Jan, a Kochi from Balkh district, told Pajhwok Afghan News they have been facing serious problems because of the drought and the powerful individuals grabbing their grass lands.
“Our grasslands have been grabbed by local strongmen. We have no power and weapons to retake our lands, which have been converted into agriculture land,” he added.
Syeda Jan said a decade ago, they had 10,000 animals. But now they are left with around 7,000 animals.
The man added he had approached the authorities concerned several times, but no one heard his voice.
He warned the cattle culture among Kochis would vanish if the government did not cooperate with them on getting back their lands.
Haji Akram, another Kochi elder from Chamtal district, complained they were facing problems in terms of animal farming.
He explained as a result of a drought, they were unable to arrange fodder and water for their animals. The government had not been cooperative, he alleged.
“All deserts are dry on the one hand and posture shorn of grass on the other. We have to buy dried grass. It’s too expensive for us to purchase,” he remarked.
Balkh PC Chairman Afzal Hadid lamented Kochis in Balkh province were living under difficult condition circumstances.
He said the issue of grassland grab had become a big headache. A strong commitment is needed from the government to resolve it.
Due to internal differences among government officials and insecurity, he said, powerful individuals had been able to grab Kochi grasslands. He demanded serious attention from officials to resolving the issue.
Eng. Farooq Obaidi, head of Kochi affairs, in Balkh, expressed concern over land-grab incidents in the province. He said a presidential delegation has launched investigation into the matter.
He said around 90 percent of the grazing land belonging to Kochis had been encroached upon and livestock farming has thus become difficult for them.
He demanded the provision of health and clean water facilities for Kochis. He also called for evicting grabbers from the grasslands.