After decades of civil war, Afghanistan’s agricultural sector is starting to get back on its feet.
The Afghan government recently held an agriculture exhibition to promote the country’s farm produce to local and foreign markets.
More than 50 thousand people, including hundreds of local farmers, came to the exhibition at the Badam Bagh in Kabul to make new contacts and business deals.
Some of the farmers have come from different parts of the country and are eager to show their products.
Vice President Karim Khalili says the event is important for boosting the Afghan economy.
“I’m happy to introduce Afghanistan’s agriculture products and systems,” he says.
“This kind of exhibition is necessary for our development. In every country, local producers are the mainstay of the economy.”
Products ranging from flowers, fruits, animal products, vegetables, to modern agricultural machinery are all on show.
Agricultural products make up 30% of the Afghan economy.
And according to the government, there’s been a 40 percent increase in fruit products this year.
Agriculture minister, Muhammad Asif Rahimi, says Afghanistan is ready to become a self-sufficient country.
“Many businessmen come from various countries... We show different Afghan products here: fruits, almonds, vegetables, and many others. We aim to become a big regional producing country.”
Afghanistan is known for producing some of the finest fruits, like apricots, grapes, and melons.
Muhammad Yunis has brought hundreds of bottles of honey from Nangerhar province to the exhibition.
He says it’s the best place to find new local and international clients for his products.
“In fact, I find about 60 percent of my clients in exhibitions like this. I’m very pleased with my sales now,” he says proudly.
During the civil war, Afghanistan had to import more than 50 percent of its agricultural needs.
And it was impossible to hold agricultural exhibitions like this.
Now the government wants to grow its agricultural sector seriously, says Agriculture Minister Muhammad Asif Rahimi.
“We want to improve our agriculture sector day by day. When this sector is improved, we will not be concerned about economy crisis during the transition when foreign troops leave next year.”
But according to the Afghan Chamber of Commerce, the government has not paid enough attention to the agriculture industry.
“I think one of the reasons is that a country that has just come out of a civil war and embarked on a new peace-building phase,” says Muhammad Qoorband Haqjoo, chief of the Chamber.
“The government is more likely to pay attention to other sectors, like roads and telecommunications. But I think as Afghanistan progresses, we’re trying to improve infrastructure for sectors like agriculture. One of the steps is with exhibitions like this.”
In the exhibition, vegetable sellers like Gul Andam have learnt about new techniques for selling their products abroad.
“I came here from Parwan province, I brought peppers and some other vegetables. This exhibition is really good for improving our business. We can learn how to use different new machines to pack our products in a better way so that eventually we will be able to market them internationally.”
It’s the first visit for Muhammad Arif Firoz to the exhibition.
He says he’s impressed with his own country’s products.
“Through this kind of exhibition we can modify our products for global export. I’m sure we will become a major exporting country in the future.”
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