First pistachio farm in Kandahar has started giving yield
KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): The first pistachio farm in southern Kandahar province produced 2,000 kilograms of pistachio last year, the orchard’s owner says.
The orchard is spread over 150 jirbs (75 acres) of land in Daman district and has 24,000 trees. The first organized pistachio orchard has been established by Hamid Helmandi, an agriculture expert, who has completed higher studies in agriculture sciences abroad.
Helmandi is not only working to promote pistachio and olive orchards in Kandahar but has been doing researches on various agriculture related subjects that could help Afghanistan become self-sufficient in the sector.
Helmandi’s some research works have been endorsed by the president as part of the national policy and readied for being implemented.
Talking to Pajhwok Afghan News during an interview Hamid Helmandi said that keeping in view Afghanistan’s climate, economic and political situations he carried out an experiment of establishing pistachio orchards nationwide and the result had been satisfactory.
According to his study, Helmandi said landlocked countries like Afghanistan faced similar problems in their productions and exports.
“There are four key factors that negatively impact a landlocked country’s exports, first factor is landlocked country’s relations with its neighbours, second factor is the political and internal situation of its neighbouring countries, third is transport system and fourth heavy transit cost.”
He said it had been observed many times that despite having good relations with neighbours, landlocked countries faced problems in their exports. Internal bad political and security situations often resulted in losses to exporters.
He said the lack of a proper transport system which delayed transfer of goods made it impossible for a landlocked country to compete on international level.
Helmandi did his research on these factors in Afghanistan and reached the conclusion that cops on which these factors have little or no impact should be promoted.
Based on his research, Helmandi established a pistachio orchard in Kandahar four years ago when he brought the world’s famous California pistachio trees to Afghanistan.
He said pistachio trees did not need to be watered for 10 days and the trees grew well in areas having scarce water. The expert said pistachio trees started giving harvest after six years of their plantation and each tree could produce yield worth $100 per year, compared to $4 to $20 income from per pomegranate tree.
He also said the first pistachio farm in Kandahar produced 2,000 kg of pistachio last year and each kilogram sold for 600 afghanis in the local bazaar.
“My work is not confined to this farm, we established 115 pistachio farms last year in Zheri, Panjwai, Maiwand, Takhta Pul, Arghistan and Spin Boldak districts and we plan to plant 240 more orchards this year in areas where water availability is insufficient.”
Helmadi hoped he would be able to extend the pistachio promotion process to other parts of the country and eventually turn Afghanistan into a big pistachio export country. He said Iran’s second largest export was pistachio after oil.
He also mentioned olive orchards that had good outcome in Kandahar. He said previously olive orchards did not exist in the province. Ghee factories owners in Nangarhar were all praise for olive produced in Kandahar as enough quantity of oil was extracted from it, said Helmandi.
He said olive orchards were good news for Afghanistan because the plants did not need water even for a month and gave enough yield.
The expert has been working and doing research on plans and policies which could help Afghanistan take the path of becoming self-sufficient in the area of agriculture.
Besides doing work on several other tasks, Helmandi said had been tasked with increasing wheat production by the president. He said his research on wheat had been endorsed by the president and would be implemented as a national policy.
He said wheat accounted for 75 percent food of Afghans and wheat was each year exported to the country against $1 billion which was a huge amount.
“The problem in wheat production is that our land is not level, we use enough water but our harvest remains low. In other countries, 2.5 acre of land produces 15 tonnes of wheat but in Afghanistan, the same land does not produce one tonne. “
He said the salient features of his research in this regard were that agronomy subjects and laser land leveling technology should be considered for wheat production. He said furrows in fields should be done away with because it would help save 50 percent irrigation water from being wasted. He said the removal of furrows could increase arable land by 15 percent and increase the production by 30 percent.
His another research is about preservation of underground water. He says Afghanistan has the capacity to preserve 16 billion square metres water, whie 90 percent of Afghanistan’s water flows into neighbouring countries.
He said if rainwater was preserved underground, the country would not face water scarcity if rains did not fall for two years.
Helmandi also stressed the use of machinery in agriculture and said it was unfortunate that Afghan farmers used tractors only for ploughing while a tractor could be used for 35 purposes.
He said the country’s situation had changed with the increase in population. In the past, a farmer had to feed 10 other persons in his family, but the figures had increased to 120.
He said the majority of Afghans were associated with farming, but the yield remained low. He said he had opened an agriculture research centre in Kandahar where farmers were trained on how to properly use tractors.
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