Farah cucumber growers hit by cheap imports
FARAH CITY (Pajhwok): Growers in western Farah province on Friday complained of being hard hit by cucumber imports from Pakistan and Iran.
The province produces hundreds of tonnes of cucumber on a daily basis, with the imports forcing local farmers to sell their produce at dirt-cheap prices.
Some angry growers warned of returning to poppy cultivation if the government did not protect their interests or avoided enhancing the import duty.
Habibullah, a 54-year-old farmer from Nawrozi village, has grown cucumber and tomato on 1.5 acres of land on the outskirts of Farah City, the provincial capital.
His farms produce two tonnes of cucumber and 800 kilograms of tomato daily, but abysmally low prices have been a source of grave concern for the grower.
Habibullah added: “I cultivated vegetables in the hope that the authorities will assist me in growing legal crops and giving up poppy cultivation. Unfortunately, there is no market for our produce…”
He explained a kilogram of cucumber previously accounted for 16 afghanis, but the rate had plummeted to 6afs as a result of large-scale imports from the neighbouring countries.
“Both Iran and Pakistan want us to remain reliant on them and go there in search of jobs. Every year, when our produce is ripe, they increase low-priced exports to Farah and other provinces. They jack up prices once our growers are harmed.”
Another farmer from Bagh Pul area, Abdul Qayyum, said: “Previously, one kilogram of cucumber was priced at 17afs, but the current rate has come down to 6afs -- thanks to low-quality imports from Iran and Pakistan.”
He said farmers harvesting cucumber could not get their investment and the government should adopt measures to stop importing agriculture products from Iran and Pakistan.
Abdul Shakoor, a cucumber vendor, said one kilogram was being sold for 5 afghanis in Farah while the same quantity was in other provinces for 6.50 afghanis.
“We want the government either to stop importing cucumber during the season when our own produce comes to the market or impose more taxes on imported cucumber,” he added.
The farmers warned if the government failed to help them find a market for local cucumber, then they would resort to growing opium poppies next year.
Officials said last year illicit poppies were cultivated on 28,000 hectares of land in the province. Eng. Muhammad Zafar Kazimi, the agriculture director, said Farah produced 460 tonnes of cucumber, with 60 tonnes used locally.
He acknowledged imports from Pakistan and Iran had left a negative impact on the local product. He said cucumber had been selling in the province at the rate of 6 afghanis per kilogram.
“We are striving to find a good market abroad for Farah cucumber but our efforts have yielded any positive outcome so far,” he noted.
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