Crop yields on the decline in Nuristan
JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Agricultural productivity has declined in eastern Nuristan province due to the absence of quality seeds and plantation of substandard seeds.
Other issues the agriculture sector of Nuristan faces include lack of modern farming tools, nutritional supplements for plants, medicines and non-implementation of projects.
Agriculture and Livestock Director Abdul Rauf Nuristani told Pajhwok Afghan News that nothing had been done to develop the agriculture sector of the province.
He said no project had been executed in the agriculture sector so far in Nuristan, where gardening equaled to nothing.
He said crop yields continued to decline each year due to the absence of improved seeds, but did not give figures.
“Farmers use uncertified seeds and that is why the yield is declining each year. I hope the government and donor agencies will assist us in this area,” he said.
He feared farmers would switch to poppy crop if they did not receive improved quality seeds and other such assistance from the government.
“We don’t have a single tractor in the whole of Nuristan. Farmers plow their fields using pairs of oxen. That’s the situation of our agriculture.”
The agriculture director said the security situation in Nuristan had improved and all roads were secure, urging the government and aid-giving organisations to pay attention to the agriculture sector of the province.
Nuristani said 75 percent population of the province was associated with farming. He said if dairy, poultry and fish farms were established in Nuristan, the move would also help increase government’s revenue.
About 100,000 square metres of land is used to grow crops in Nuristan, where large swaths of rain-fed land can easily be brought under irrigation.
Farmers said they had never been assisted to increase their agricultural production. One of them, Shafiqullah in Norgram district, said the lack of improved quality seeds was behind unsatisfactory yield.
“We know improved quality seeds are given to farmers in other provinces, but don’t know why we are deprived of that.”
He said the Nuristan land was fertile and if the government paid attention, farmers would be able to present good quality products to the market.
A resident of the Kamdesh district, Amir Mohammad, told Pajhwok Afghan News he used to purchase medicines from neighbouring Kunar or Nangarhar provinces for plant diseases.
“The agriculture department neither gives us improved quality seeds nor medicines. We are compelled to grow poppy crops like in other provinces.”
Nuristan is a poppy-free province, but its soil and atmosphere is said to be suitable for growing the banned plant.
Meanwhile, acting Nuristan governor Hafiz Abdul Qayum told Pajhwok Afghan News that many opportunities were available to develop the agriculture and livestock sector of the province, but the opportunities were overlooked.
He said fruits like grapes, almond, apple and others were produced in Nuristan and the Ministry of Agriculture should work to develop fruit orchards in the province.
Besides other crops, the land in Nuristan is suitable for growing beans and the Agriculture Ministry should provide improved quality seeds of beans to farmers, the governor says.
“Beans produced in Nuristan is famous and can be supplied to other provinces and exported abroad if the yield is increased.”
To a question, the acting governor said he had shared his recommendations about development of the agriculture sector of Nuristan with the ministry concerned and the National Security Council, but there had been no response as yet.
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