To many farmers in Zabul, , it seems that no matter how hard they work, they cannot make enough to support themselves and their families. Lack of infrastructure, markets, training and support means that much of their crop spoils before it can be sold.
Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that international donors have poured into Afghanistan’s agricultural sector, farmers still face difficulties. Many are unaware of even the basics of modern, professional farming, and are using old techniques for irrigation, harvesting, etc.
Farmers in Zabul claim that their government has provided no help at all. Plant diseases ruin their crops, they lack proper storage facilities, and there are few organized markets to sell their produce. Due to these factors, they are forced to sell their harvest at less than market value.
Rahmatullah a resident of Meezani districts of Zabul province,brought pomegranates in his tractor to Qalaat, the provincial center.
“The lack of markets has created serious problems for the farmers,” he said. “Besides this, the roads from the districts to the city are also in bad shape, which makes the fruit soft and spoiled. Security bases along the roads force the farmers to provide them with money, fruit etc., and of course this is a serious problem. We have to sell the fruit at a lower price, and then the money we do make goes to the police as bribes.”
Rahmatullah sells a kilo of pomegranatesfor 25 or 30 Afs ($.40), less than half of what his crop would fetch in Kabul.
Hekmatullah, resident of Shahjoy district of Zabul is trying to sell his apples.
He brought his crop to the bazaar in a rickshaw.”I am worried about howto provide for my family,” he said. “How can I find food for them? We spent the whole year farming, and now I am not sure I will even get back the money I invested.”
Hekmatullah asks the government to provide farmers with storage facilities for their crops. Now they have to sell the fruit or other crops at a lower price before they spoil. Hekmatullah sells a kilo of apples for 20 Afs( $ 0.30) which is,again, about half of what apples sell for in Kabul. He has no choice, however, since he has no place to store them.
Abdullah Jan from Shahjoy district of Zabul has brought his apples in a small car.
He has to sell the fruit at a low price and very soon, because the fruit will spoil and he won’t be able to get even 1 afghani. Abdullah Jan also asks the government to pay more attention to the fruit markets and provide the farmers with facilities.
The farmers want the government to implement some trainings for them and show them the best, easiest and most modern ways of farming, storing, caring for and selling their crops. If they can farm in correct, modern ways, they say, they will be able to get satisfactory results. This will also increase the income to the government.