KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): Local officials say 35,000 tones of pomegranates worth $8 million have been exported from southern Kandahar province abroad this year.
A total of 200,000 tones of the fruit were harvested in the province this year. Closure of borders as well as lockdowns caused by coronavirus in the first four months of the ongoing solar year created problems for pomegranate market.
Eng. Abdul Baqi Bina, deputy head of Kandahar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the current year brought along numerous problems including pest attacks that crashed the fruit despite high harvests.
In the beginning of the year, roads had been closed for four months due to coronavirus related measured and when the fruit ripened violence in Arghandab, Zhari, Panjwai and other districts of Kandahar escalated, causing huge losses to orchard owners and traders, he said.
However, he said that despite the mentioned problems, Kandahar produced 200,000 tons of pomegranates this year.
Bina said 35,000 tons of the fruit worth $8 million was exported abroad, mostly to Pakistan and India and less to UAE and some European countries.
He added that 900 tons of the fruit which had cracked due to pest attack was also exported as seeds.
He added that an air corridor was opened between Afghanistan and India four years ago which made orchard owners and traders happy as they found market to their products, but the air cargo did not last longer.
Not even one flight has been made since last two years despite traders’ readiness to export 40 tons of dried and fresh fruits in a week, he said.
Bina said they did not know the exact reason behind the delay and they have repeatedly asked for resumption of cargo flights.
On the other hand, he said that Afghan traders also faced problems in exports through Chabahar port.
He added that Afghan traders were unable to transfer their money to Afghanistan after exporting goods to Iran due to sanctions imposed by the US, an issue he said was also shared with the Presidential Palace.
Bina said the Chabahar port should be exempted from US sanctions on Iran.
Pomegranate traders and orchard owners also complain of problems regarding exports.
Haji Nasir, a trader of fresh fruits, said that the only route they currently used was Spin Boldak-Chaman road.
He said they exported the fruit to Pakistan this year but they could not earn the transit costs due to low quality of the fruit this year.
Besides poor quality of pomegranate, increased tax on the fruit by Pakistan was another problem, he said, adding that Pakistan previously taxed 30,000 Pakistani rupees on a single truck but this year it increased the levy to 80,000 and 100,000 Pakistani rupees. He asked the government to resolve their problems.