Paktia apple gardeners seek access to market
GARDEZ (PAN): A number of apple orchard owners in southeastern Paktia province on Wednesday complained they sold the fruit each time for a very low price in the absence of a proper market.
Although Paktia is a mountainous province, where large swaths of land are covered by forests, residents have lately started establishing apple gardens.
Jalaluddin, who owns an apple orchard on the outskirts of Gardez, told Pajhwok Afghan News apples produced in the area were always sold in local market.
He said his trees produced approximately 560 kilograms of apples, but buyers had fixed this year’s rate for seven kgs of apples at 100 afghanis, which he lamented could not even reimburse generator’s fuel costs he borne to irrigate the orchard.
Experts believe if the government and foreign organisations managed to find a proper market for apples produced in Paktia or establish small factories producing juices, the move would not only encourage gardening, but also bring about positive change in people’s economic condition.
Economic expert Habibullah said the government or the private sector should come forward and establish factories processing apples and other fruits.
He said the proposed initiative might face some challenges in the initial stage, but could result into long-term economic benefits in the future.
Agriculture officials estimate at 5000 tonnes this year’s apple production in Paktia.
Agriculture Director Niaz Mohammad said a major part of apples produced in Paktia was exported to Kabul and some to other provinces, but their price has always been low.
He said gardeners have long been trying to find a good market for their produce, but in vain. He said it was the central government’s responsibility to facilitate orchard owners in selling in their products on reasonable rates.
Besides fresh fruits, dried fruits are also produced in Paktia, but their owners have been in a similar dilemma.
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