Wheat has been cultivated on 100,000 hectares of land this year in southern Helmand province, agriculture department officials said on Sunday.
Agriculture Director Roohullah Rawan, in an inclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, said more farmers had cultivated wheat in Helmand the world’s largest opium-producing region.Last year, the crop had been sown over 90,000 hectares of land, yielding 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat. “Increased wheat cultivation could make Helmand Afghanistan’s food basket,” Rawan hoped. He linked greater wheat cultivation to distribution of improved seeds to farmers and public awareness against poppy cultivation by tribal elders, religious scholars and counter-narcotics officials.Given sustained focus on a switch to legal cash crops, poppy cultivation would be brought down to zero in a province that accounted for more than 90 percent of world’s opium, Rawan believed.Farmers’ economy would considerably improve if they got access to market for corps including cotton, he said. Cold storage facilities would be created during the current year, he concluded.