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Melon, watermelon yield fall by 50pc in Helmand

Melon, watermelon yield fall by 50pc in Helmand

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Jul 15, 2017 - 16:22

LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Agricultureinfo-icon officials in southern Helmand province say the yield of melon and watermelon fallen by 50 percent due to insecurity.

Plan and Programme Manager at Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Department Rafiullah Qalam told Pajhwok Afghan News melon and watermelon fields were protected against pesticides this year.

He said 9,800 hectares of land was cultivated with melon and watermelon in 2016, compared to only 4,000 hectares this year. He linked the decrease  to insecurity in the province.

“Farmers feared their produce would not reach the market because of insecurity. Other growers were displaced and many farmlands remained uncultivated due to the conflict,” he explained.

About grower complaints regarding lack of market and cold storage facilities, the official said he had repeatedly asked senior officials to provide the facilities, but no one paid attention to his calls.

Qalam added he had requested the central government to construct cold storage facilities worth $500,000 and a $700,000 market in Helmand. He promised the facilities would be provided in future.

About the reduced prices of melons and watermelons, he said, “Farmers are obliged to sell their produce immediately after harvest because they have no storage facilities.”

Two cold storage facilities, which had been built previously in Marja and Greshk districts, were looted by local residents during conflict, the official disclosed.

Mohammad Wali, a farmer from Lashkargah city, the provincial capital, said they had cultivated melon and watermelons on a smaller area this year, but they had better yields.

He said their melon and watermelon fields were not attacked by pesticides this year but prices were very low due to warm weather and lack of cold storage facilities.

Abdullah Jan, a roadside melon seller in Lashkargah, said the fruit was either exported or sold in Kabulinfo-icon and many other provinces at higher prices. This year, traders evinced little interest in purchasing melons and watermelons.

mds/mud

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