Agriculture, livestock mainstay of Nangarhar economy
JALALABAD (PAN): Officials in eastern Nangarhar Province say 75 percent of the provincial economy depends on the development of agriculture and livestock, expressing rheir concern at hurdles to the growth of agriculture.
“The agriculture sector faces hindrances despite the fact that the livestock and agriculture contribute 75 percent to the Nangarhar Province’s economy. The problems face by the agro sector leaves negative impact on the growers,” the officials said.
They noted with satisfaction that agriculture sector marches on the path to progress over the past few years, which left far-reaching positive impact on the lives of farmers. They are of the opinion that the establishment of a number of mega processing factories and green houses would help remove problems faced by the agriculture sector.
Eng. Mohammad Hussain Safai, agriculture, livestock, and irrigation director in his exclusive chat with the Pajhwok Afghan News said that double-edged progress has been achieved in the agriculture and livestock sectors of the province as compared to the past. He admitted some parts of the province are in grip of water shortage, adding that Nangarhar has a wild fertile land suitable for agriculture.
He says: “Some districts including Batikot, Kama, Khewa, Dara-i-Noor, Mohmand Dara, Ghanikhel, Sorkh Roud, and Bihsud have very fertile land offering better opportunity for growers to grow more crops amid enough water.”
He went on to say that the sectors of agriculture and livestock are adopting modern techniques, which tend to witness more progress, adding however, that cooperation if extended by the Agriculture Development Bank could play a highly significant role to stabilize the economy of the people.
The department of agriculture, irrigation, and livestock informed that farmer harvest thousands of tons on around 35,250 acres of irrigated while 85,000 acres of lands depend on rain water.
He said that thousands acres of wheat, maize, barleys, vetch, and other vegetables are harvested in the province with most of the vegetables are being exported to the neighboring provinces and within the province.
In addition, multiple kinds of fruits including apricots, plums, peaches, sweet oranges, and oranges are also abundant in the province. Sapai says: “There are thousands acres of farms of oranges, grapefruits, sweet oranges, and others eggplant in Batikot District.” The fruit farms yield thousands of tons of wheat, melon, and water melon that are being harvested each year.
He said his government has inaugurated land for cultivation of saffron in Nangarhar where various kinds of crops could be sown on a large number of lands with some green houses is also built in some districts of the province.
He went on to say that mega poultry farms and a dairy processing factory are functional in the province. Nangarhar Canalization Director Eng. Zyarat Gul Rahil said that his department has been planning to establish big projects during the current fiscal year, adding that the projects would be implemented phase wise. He informed that an Olive Factory is currently operational in the province.
However, growers complain that the concerned quarters did not extend the direly needed cooperation to them, saying that their products do not get market access, which tend to expire before reaching to the market.
Hamad Khan, a resident of Bihsud District complained that they grow tomatoes on their vast farm land, which find neither suitable market nor there is any greenhouse.
He says: “When the crop of tomatoes grows in large number then no one wants to purchase 7 kilogram of tomato with 40 Afghanis. Most of the tomatoes get smuggled to Pakistan.” He said that farmers direly need some sort of tangible support from the government in terms of provision of irrigation water and market access for their fruits and vegetables.
Irfanullah, a resident of Koz Bahar locality of Khogyani District, said they depend on monsoon water for growing their crops, adding that some time they use well water to irrigate their crops.
He underlined the need that the authorities should build small water dams, greenhouse, and market access for selling their vegetable and fruits. Construction of more dams and promoting the agriculture sector is the way out to resolve the problems faced by the community associated with the agriculture profession.
Haji Sayeed Hassan, a resident of Koot District said that so far the farmers themselves have been tackling the problems of the agriculture sector, adding that the government should come forward to remove the grievances of the farmers. “Neither the government nor the donor agencies pay any attention to develop the agriculture sector,” he complained.
He went on to say that most of the land in the Koot District is being irrigated with the help of canal water, expressing concerns that most the water canals face a draught like situation. He urged the government to help build small dams in mountainous areas and improve the quality of seeds and saplings being disbursed among the farmers.
He noted that there is dire need for government to help ensure market access for farmers so that they can have better place to sell their fruits and vegetables. Due to the absence of feasible market, hundreds of tons of fruits and vegetables go waste or smuggle to Pakistan.
He says: “Presently, as many 75 percent people are associated with the profession of agriculture. It is imperative for the government to introduce more opportunities to facilitate the people.”
Member of Provincial Council Zabit Amir Mohammad said that the government should establish processing factories and greenhouse for keeping agriculture crops fresh.
He says: “The problems being faced by the agriculture sector could be reduced to great extent if the concerned officials try to resolve those problems ten years back.” He said that 50 percent unemployment and security problems have emerged due to the dilapidated condition of the agriculture sector.
Business and Investment:
Traders in Nangarhar complain of growing insecurity, saying that the state of turmoil left negative impact on the overall trade and commerce, causing 30 percent reduction in their business.
Haji Farooq, Nangarhar’s traders’ union deputy head said that the insecurity left their business paralyzed, adding that they are unable to do their business activities in fear- free environment.
He said that their businesses witnessed considerable decrease, saying that they are experiencing many problems on the main routes when they import goods with special reference oil from abroad. He said mostly the Taliban set imported oil on fire on the ground that the edibles are being transported to foreign troops.
He said that due to deteriorated security situation, most of his relatives were abducted by armed men who were later freed without ransom. He went on to blame the provincial administration for failing to motivate the investors to invest or to offer them with investment opportunities.
He said though there are dozens of big and small factories in Nangarhar Province, adding however, its owners are facing acute electricity shortage and the needed environment for their products in the market.
They said that Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) has set up an industrial park close to king Amanullah Khan’s township, but that is yet to be made functional.
Another businessman, Haji Najib said that making the new industrial part operation would help create more factories, adding that its success are linked to bolstered security and availability of enough electricity. “I will not establish any factory in areas where problems of security and electricity haunt people,” he said.
Handicraft sector witnesses some sort of progress as compared to the past with the setting up of some small factories in Nangarhar where the business was paralyzed ten year back. A large number of manpower is working in the carpet weaving factories in the province. Noor Ahmad, a skilled labour working in a carpet weaving factory, said that the factory prepares dozens of carpets adding, but that they are is being faced with shortage of wool string.
He said that they arrange to import woolen string from Pakistan, adding that the absence of carpet washing and cutting machines bringing the carpet prices up.
Anwarul Haq, who owns a pottery shop in Jalalabad city complain that their products have no market access, which is being used by residents of remote areas.
He said that pottery was very famous in Nangarhar some 40 years back while the residents of other provinces have been visiting the province for purchasing earthen tools.
He urged the government to hold handicrafts exhibition inside and outside the country in an apparent attempt to arrest the attention of international traders, which would go a long way to enhance the business of ancient handicrafts. He held out the information and culture department responsible for not doing enough homework to promote the handicrafts.
The traders, farmers, craftsmen, and handicrafts are awaiting a better environment where they could find better market access to promote their products.
Aisha, a worker of an embroidery factory, said that the products of her factory have occupied enough space in the market, adding that most of the skilled workers use other machinery handicrafts that are produced in Pakistan.
She went on to say that the absence of relevant materials force them to import the stuff from Pakistan, which bring the prices of their products higher.
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