With 60 percent of Afghans working in agriculture, the government’s commitment to dramatically expand the country’s cold storage capacity stands to make a big difference economically far and wide.
“By building additional cold storage space, we’re increasing the export of fresh fruits and vegetables to reach a billion dollars in economic activity this year,” Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, president and chief executive officer of the Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, told Radio Bayan recently. “That’s a very high number for us and will boost Afghanistan’s economy.”
Recently, officials from the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced that a new cold storage facility at Hamid Kharzai International Airport can hold 100 tons of fruit and produce. Such a facility located at a transportation hub allows crops to stay fresh and remain available for export longer, effectively driving up the potential revenue available to Afghanistan’s hard working farmers.
The massive new cold storage facility at the international airport becomes the crown jewel in a still-growing network of about 1,500 small and medium cold storage facilities build in different provinces nationwide, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.
Shiraqa Sadiqi head of fruits and vegetable dealer union said:
“The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and Ministry of Commerce and Industry are working to build standard cold storage in major locations like Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar, Nangarhar and Kunduz, as well as in fruit and vegetable markets, agriculture forums and on the borders,” said Shiraqa Sadiqi, head of the country’s fruit and vegetable dealers union. “Fruits and vegetables can rot quickly, therefore we need cold storage facilities to keep our farmers’ fruits and vegetables marketable for a longer time.”
The prospect of added cold storage capacity excited farmers and others who spoke with Sada-e-Azadi journalists across the country. In addition to the potential revenue generated by keeping produce fresh for export longer, one farmer from Herat said the facilities could reduce Afghanistan’s reliance on other countries for food, and keep more money inside the country’s borders as well.
“Having cold storage has a direct impact on marketing for farmers,” said Jumakhan Oryan of Herat. “If we have cold storage, we can use our internal agriculture products here in Afghanistan and will not need to import fruits and vegetables from other countries. I hope our government does build cold storage facilities to help our farmers and help growth the economy of our people.”