Balkh growers complain of low watermelon prices
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): The yield of melon and watermelon increased in northern Balkh province this year -- thanks to favourable climatic conditions and timely rain.
Agriculture Director Katib Shams told Pajhwok Afghan News many fruit crops in the province were hard-hit by an intense cold wave and heavy snowfall last year. Their production levels declined as a result.
But rains during the current year came at the right time, adding to soil moisture and irrigation water, the official said. As a consequence of the enabling conditions, fruit production levels were generally boosted.
Compared with last year’s figures, production levels of watermelon, melon, pomegranate and almond have seen an increase. In particular, the yield of melon and watermelon had significantly risen, he added.
But despite a 15 percent hike in yield, melon and watermelon farmers complain of low market prices. Growers from Chamtal district, known for watermelon production, say the rates have slumped.
One of them, Mohammad Din, told Pajhwok he cultivated watermelon on a five-acre tract of land every year to meet his financial needs. “This year, I’m happy with the watermelon yield. In 20014, all my efforts had ended up in smoke.”
Last year, his melon and watermelon crops were damaged by cold weather. He recalled, the yield dropped considerably and caused him enough losses.
Happy with the bumper crop but worried by the falling rates, Din put the price of one kg of watermelon at 3 afghanis, compared with last year’s rate of 7afs.
Fruit merchant Mohammadullah linked the watermelon price decline to a better yield and a drop in exports. He suggested efforts for finding the right market for Afghanistan’s fruits.
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