Baghlan factory produces 570 tonnes of sugar
PUL-I-KHUMRI (Pajhwok): The Baghlan Sugar Mills produced 570 tonnes of sugar during the current year, the same level as achieved in 2013, a senior official said on Friday.
Most of the sugar was obtained from crushing beet cultivated over 392 acres of land in the northern province, Ghulam Sakhi, head of the mills, told Pajhwok Afghan News during an exclusive interview.
He said Baghlan farmers had sold the factory 4,818 tonnes of beet this year. “If the government and growers reach an agreement on cultivating more beet, our production will considerably rise.”
Sakhi said each grower was given two bags of fertiliser and a kilogram of seed free of cost per acre. A tonne of sugar beet was purchased for 2,000 afghanis, the official added.
Fazal Haq, one of the farmers, said: "I grow sugar beet on my 2.5 acres of land every year but face a lot of problems due to low prices and plant diseases that leave the crop in a state of withering."
If the Department of Agriculture and the mills did not address his problems this year, he might stop cultivating beet, warned the farmer, who sought support and encouragement from authorities.
Agriculture Director Azizullah Aimaq, pleased with the increase in the cultivation and production of the mills, confirmed the crop had been attacked by a pest over the past two years.
His department has since been trying to eliminate the worm, but the effort has not yielded the desired result. German experts were working to eliminate the pest, he said, promising the distribution of improved seed to farmers.
Meanwhile, consumers acknowledged the quality of sugar produced in Baghlan was better than the imported commodity. But its price was also higher, one consumer said.
A baker in Pul-i-Khumri, Nasir Ahmad, said that a a kilogram of Baghlan sugar accounted for 50-55 afghans, compared with the Pakistani variety that cost 40-45afs per kg.
“One major quality of the Baghlan sugar is that it has large grains and a delicious taste, but the Pakistani variety is in powder form and of poor quality," remarked Nasir, who buys 5,000 kg of the commodity every year.
But Sakhi said a 50-kg sugar bag was sold for 2,000 afs -- a price was much lower than the imported variety that cost up to 2,400 afs.
“If the government supports us by buying sugar for its departments such as the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defence, I am sure the production of the factory will multiply,” he hoped.
Sugarcane after being crushed was used as fodder for animals, which was sold for 1,000afs a tonne in the open market.
The Baghlan Sugar Mills is the first one of its kind built with the cooperation of Germany. The sugar it produces is consumed by the locals and some government departments.
Built in 1938, the factory started production in 1940. Afghanistan annually needs 150,000 tonnes of sugar. If the factory operates at full capacity, it will produce 18,000 tonnes of sugar to meet 12 percent of Afghanistan’s requirement.
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