Apricot, apple yield down by 65pc in Nirkh
MAIDAN SHARH (Pajhwok): The production of apricot and apples has decreased by 65 percent in the Nirkh district of central Maidan Wardak province this solar year, officials said on Thursday.
Though agriculture officials link the fall to harsh weather conditions, orchard owners blame it on negligence on the part of the provincial government.
Provincial Agriculture Director Fazl Omar told Pajhwok Afghan News that Nirkh district had a huge number of fruit gardens.
He said the town suffered a 65 percent decline in apricot and apple produce this year due to cold weather, hailstorms and excessive rains. However, the director did not provide figures for the yield.
A resident of Shokarkhel area, Shah Nawaz, told Pajhwok Afghan News the decline in yield was due to lack of attention toward orchards by the provincial authorities.
“We acknowledge harsh weather conditions resulted in reduced production of apricots and apples, but if the agriculture department had paid head in-time, the yields would not have declined to that extent,” he argued.
He said there had been a decline in potato yield as well and the reason had been high prices of seeds. He said most farmers were unable to buy potato seeds due to poverty.
Amanullah, who lives in Qul Mirdil area, said the agriculture department extended assistance to farmers and orchard owners who were associated with cooperative societies. He said deserving farmers had always been denied their rights.
Orchard owner Yasin said they had to sell apricots and apples at throw-away prices due to lack of market.
He said they first transferred the yield to Maidan Shahr, where no buyers turned up, and then to Kabul, where they had to sell the fruits cheaply to prevent them from rotting.
He said orchard owners faced problems in selling their produce and there were no cold storages and improved quality seeds had not been distributed to them.
But the Agriculture Department representative in Nirkh district, Rahmatullah Basharyar, said all growers had been given improved seeds and saplings besides other assistance.
He said they planned to distribute plants which could produce five times more fruits. About assistance to farmers, he said: “When the assistance arrives, we are given a list of growers by the development council. We give assistance to farmers after the list is verified by the district chief.”
He said a storage facility having the capacity of storing 500 tonnes of fruits was scheduled to be built in the district this year, but the plan had been delayed for unknown reasons.
The agriculture director said there were two large storage facilities --- one in Syedabad district and another in Maidan Shahr. The facilities have the capacity to house 1500 tonnes of fruits.
Fazl Omar said there were nearly a dozen agriculture warehouses in Maidan Wardak, 67 clusters, 31 animal hospitals and15 veterinary clinics.
He said farmers in Nirkh district had been distributed 13.5 tonnes of improved quality wheat seed and 27 tonnes of chemical fertilisers last year. Similar items weighing nearly 37 tonnes were distributed this year.
It is to be mentioned here that construction work on a fruit market, a $6 million US-funded project, has been launched in Maidan Shahr, the provincial capital.
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