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Kandahar exports grapes worth $4.5mln

Kandahar exports grapes worth $4.5mln

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Oct 04, 2017 - 17:11

KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): Grapes weighing more than 20,000 tons worth $4.5 million have been exported abroad from southern Kandahar province so far this season, a trader representative said on Wednesday.

Eng. Abdul Baqi Bena, deputy head of the Kandahar chamber of commerce, told Pajhwok Afghan News in an interview that more than 50,000 tons of grapes had been collected so far in Kandahar.

He said 20000 tons of grapes were exported and the remaining supplied to markets inside the country while a portion of the harvest was spared for making raisins.

He said the bulk of grapes was exported to Pakistaninfo-icon and the remaining to India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

He said Pakistan was a closest and easy accessible market for Kandahar fruits, but last year the border crossing between the two countries was closed several times, inflicting huge losses on Afghan traders and orchard owners.

However, Bena said there was no problem on the border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistaninfo-icon this season. In total, he said, about 2000 tons of fresh and dried fruits were daily exported to Pakistan via Spin Boldak and Torkham border crossings.

“Exporting fruits to Pakistan is easy compared to other countries who give importance to quality of packaging and other standards. It is unfortunate that packaging in Afghanistan is not standard yet.”

About the India-Afghanistan air corridor, Bena said so far 120 tons of dried and fresh fruits had been exported to India via the route in three flights from Kandahar.

He said there had been problems at airports of Afghanistan and India when the air corridor was first uninitiated, but now those problems stood resolved.

He said the first flight from Kandahar remained at India airport for 15 days due to customs clearance and other related issues, but the last flight from Kandahar was cleared in one night and the fruits supplied to markets the same time.

However, the trader representative said technical problems remained unresolved at the Kandahar airport where facilities to check, preserve and shift fruits were not available.

He said it took six days to export fruits to India by road with one kilogram costing 60 cents (of a US dollar) while the journey via the air corridor took a few hours against 20 cents per kg.

Bena urged President Ashraf Ghani to open air corridors with other regional countries so Afghanistan fruits could reach the worldinfo-icon’s markets.

The Kandahar chamber of commerce deputy head also talked about his recent visit to Iran as part of an Afghan delegation.

He said Iranian officials had agreed to allow Afghan traders to export their goods to Arab and European countries via Iran.

He said Afghan traders needed the international community’s assurance about their investments in Iran due to the country’s uneasy relations with the West.

Fresh fruit traders in Kandahar also confirmed there had been no problem in exporting fruits to Pakistan this season and the air corridor with India further facilitated the exports.

A fruits packaging company owner in Kandahar, Saaduddin Saeed, said he exported dozens of tons of grapes and other fruits via the India-Afghanistan air corridor. He said the volume of fruit exports increased after the air corridor’s inauguration.

Another development taking place this year was ferrying fruits from orchards in air-conditioned vehicles to preserve the age and taste of the fruits until they reached foreign markets.

Orchard owners said the air corridor with India had increased their hopes and similar agreements should be reached with other countries.

Mohammad Aman, who owns a grape orchard in Zheri district, said it had been a long standing demand of farmers and traders to have an air corridor.

He said currently almost all fruit harvests were taken to Pakistan where Pakistani trader exported the same fruits abroad in their country’s name.

He said the Afghanistan-India air corridor had enabled Afghan traders to export their fruits themselves and pocket most of the income.

Kandahar airport manager Ahmadullah Faizi said they had facilities and personnel to check, preserve and transport fruits at the airport for 24 hours a day.

He said checking wrongly packaged goods took time to be cleared and he had talked to traders about quality packaging.

The process of exporting grapes and other fruits from Kandahar to Pakistan is still ongoing as about 200 tons of fruits daily cross the Spin Boldak border crossing into the neighboring country.

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