Afghanistan to boost agri exports

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Nov 25 | Updated: Nov 26 2007, 05:39am hrs
Afghanistan wants to boost its exports of dry fruits, fresh fruits and vegetables, marbles and natural stones to India, and in return is seeking greater Indian investments in the agro processing, construction sector, and in trade and services.

Our exports to India have declined since over a decade due to the disturbed situation in our country. Now our exports to India are only around $30 to $40 million. We want to increase our exports to India and want to attract more of Indian investment, which is now flowing at the rate of $10 to $15 million, Omar Zakhilwal, president and CEO, Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA), told FE.

He said that his country has exportable varieties of dry fruits like almond, fig, raisins, apricot, pistachio, and fresh fruits like grapes, pomegranates, melons, apples, and medicinal herbs. The growing middle class in India, with their rising income, would like to consume these healthy food from Afghanistan, he said, and added that Indian investors can also take the opportunity to invest in the agro processing sector in his country.

Zakhilwal was in India last week and addressed the representatives of the Indian industry at an interactive session hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The Afghanistan government has launched a regional economic cooperation programme, which includes countries like Pakistan, India, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and West Asian countries. The first meeting of this group was held in Kabul in December 2005, followed by a meeting in Delhi in November 2006. The next meeting is in Islamabad in March 2008.

Afghanistan expects that with its new membership to SAARC, its trade relations with India and other countries of South Asia would get a boost.