Afghanistan seeks India help to boost agri sector

Written by Preeti Parashar | Chandigarh | Updated: Dec 7 2010, 04:57am hrs
Afghanistan is looking forward to strengthen its investment relationship with the private sector in the field of agriculture in India. The country seeks to explore investment opportunities with the private companies and value chains of fruits and vegetables, animal products, medicinal herbs etc.

Agriculture, irrigation and livestock minister of Afghanistan Mohammad Asif Rahimi said on the sidelines of CII Agrotech 2010, We want the private companies from India to set up their units in Afghanistan to create more jobs. We are ready to provide the companies with legal framework, land for cultivation purposes, credit to the farmers and other basic infrastructure to operate.

Rahimi further added, We have set a target of investing around $ 4 billion into agriculture over the next three years for increasing the soil productivity, better water management, institutional capacity building etc. Out of the 8 million hectare of agricultural land in Afghanistan only 1.8 million hectare is under irrigation and the rest is rain fed. Through this exhibition we aim to explore new technologies to revitalise our agriculture sector.

Afghan farmers revealed that about 80% of the water from natural resources is wasted due to lack of check dams or proper irrigation channels. They aim to replicate the drip irrigation and cold storage system from India. Hidayatullah, managing director, Samsor Ban agricultural services, Kabul told FE, Factors like improper irrigation channels, outdated machinery, no pest control etc affect our crops adversely. We are keen on importing farm machinery from India as importing from Europe is very expensive. After studying the agriculture system in Turkey, Israel, Thailand, China and India we want to use the same irrigation means and technologies as used in India. Drip irrigation, solar water pumps and cold storage system are a few techniques we are keen on replicating on our fields.

Meanwhile the exports of fresh fruits and dry fruits is on the rise from Afghanistan to India. As per Rahimi India is the largest trade partner for Afghanistan. Traders make more profits if their products reach India. The exports list includes almond, raisins, melon, apples, walnut, pomegranate, cherries, apricot, saffron etc. In the future we plan to export olive oil, cut flowers, rose oil, pashmina and medicinal herbs to India, said Rahimi. The exporters also want to increase the quantity of cherries and apricot being exported to India.

Cut import duty on fruit, say Afghan exporters

Exporters from Afghanistan have appealed to the Indian government to reduce various duties charged on fresh fruits and dry fruits by 50% to give a boost to the exports to India. Also the farmers demand a cut in the freight and handling charges at the Indian airports as routing the products through Pakistan turns out to be too expensive for them.