The trader representative body on Monday said some 40,000 tonnes of pomegranates worth above $10 million have been exported to foreign countries from southern Kandahar province.
The fruit was exported to Pakistan, India and the United Arab Emirates, Kandahar Chamber of Commerce and Industries chief Haji Nasrullah Zaheer told Pajhwok Afghan News during an interview.
He said 10,000 tonnes of pomegranates were exported as registered and 30,000 tonnes as unregistered. He explained pomegranates produced in districts near the provincial capital, Kandahar City, were registered at customs department, but from Dand, Arghistan and Maroof districst, pomegranates were exported without their registration.
He said the bulk of the pomegranates were exported to Pakistan and India by road and 500 tonnes to the UAE by air. He said this year’s pomegranates production despite being affected by heavy rains was satisfactory compared to past years.
He said it was possible the rains had affected one-third of the yield and that was why the fruit could not be exported to other countries except the three.
Zaheer rejected rumours that grapes from Tajikistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan had affected the market of Afghan pomegranates.
He said grapes from Tajikistan had not passed through Afghanistan customs offices and if Tajikistan grapes had reached Pakistan, it would have been reached there through smuggling routes.
He said it was completely wrong that grapes had brought down the price of pomegranates, saying they were different fruits and had different market value.
He said during the previous season when Pakistan increased import duty on Afghanistan fruits, the move not only affected traders but also resulted in decreased exports of dried fruits.
Zaheer said the processing of fresh and dried fruits in Kandahar had lately improved and as a result, fruits from the province could be exported to any country, but the problem was that Afghan traders faced hardships in getting visas amid lack of transport facilities.
He said to export Afghan fruits the reliance remained on Pakistan and India despite the fact the two countries exported the same fruits to other countries as their own product.
He said the Afghan government should facilitate traders in obtaining foreign visas in order they could travel to foreign countries and export fruits in line with their standard. He said the government should arrange cargo planes to make it possible that Afghan fruits were exported to Europe and the US.
For their exclusive natural taste and colour, Afghan fruits were liked in many foreign countries, he said.
He said the Chinese ambassador during his visit to Kandahar expressed his country’s willingness to allow Afghan fruits to be exported to other countries through China, but the promise was yet to be practically honoured. He said the Afghan government should work on the idea and should sign an agreement with China in this regard.
Fresh fruits traders association head Haji Nanai Agha told Pajhwok Afghan News the process to export pomegranates to Pakistan and India was ongoing and daily 10 to 15 vehicles carried the fruit to the two countries from Kandahar.
He urged the government to find alternative routes and increase facilities for traders to enable them to export Afghan products to several other countries.
He said currently Pakistani and other foreign traders benefitted the most from trade in Afghan fruits because they exported the same fruits to other countries.