Agricultural Growth and Government’s Initiatives in last Three Years
By: Zia Danish
Translated by: Abdul Ahad Katawazai
Country’s agriculture contributes 31 percent to the national revenue and provides jobs to 80 percent of the country’s population. In 2015, unfortunately the economic growth of Afghanistan declined due to the low precipitation and 14.2 percent reduction in grain production. Based on the figures provided by World Bank office in Afghanistan, during the same year the total agricultural products declined by 5.7 percent thus the same trend also continued in 2015.
Despite low precipitation, government’s programs in specific areas led to significant growth in agricultural sector of the country. In 2015, government’s effective planning of programs, the engagement of both private sector and the Afghan people helped to increase 71 percent growth of saffron production, rise honey’s production, grow and expand dairy products, increase poultry meat, promote greenhouse products, significantly increase soybean’s cultivation and harvest, and etc.
Following are the instances of Afghanistan’s achievement in the agricultural sector in the last 3 years:
1.Raising and Supplying Poultry and Fish Meat:
The data provided by the Ministry of Agricultural shows that the poultry and fish meat market with the consumption capacity of 178 thousand tons is gradually being taken over, with the support of the government, by the domestic products.
A significant growing number in the establishment of poultry and fish farms has led to increasing employment and trading in this sector.
In 2016, 84.2 thousand tons of poultry meat including 2 thousand tons of fish meat raised inside Afghanistan and 35.4 tons of poultry meat and also 237 tons of fish meat have imported to the Afghanistan.
According to the figures provided, more than half of the needed meat in the country’s market has produced and provided inside the country, therefore, this achievement led to the creation of jobs for about 24 thousands of individuals in poultry farms and one thousand individuals in 300 fish raising farms.
Studies show that the poultry industry in the country has the capacity to create jobs for at least 50 thousand persons and fish farming will provide jobs for more than 10 thousand people.
The National Unity Government intensely strives, with the assistance of people involved in these areas, making Afghanistan self-sufficient in this sector. The following supporting instances are provided for the people who have invested or willing to invest in these two fields:
1-Development of specific policy for poultry meat production and its development in Afghanistan;
2-Establishment of small and large loan systems without interest for the purpose of investment;
3-Establishment of financing resources for balanced rations, parent stock and one-day chicken;
4-Establishment sources for raising and reproducing baby fishes and facilitating their usage for fish farming owners;
5-Serious consideration to the water resources and their maximum usage for the raising of fish meat;
6-Establishment of fish research centers;
2.Cultivating and Trading Saffron:
In the past years, the farmers’ interest for Saffron cultivation increased across the country and recently became one of the top exporting and commercial goods of Afghanistan. Based on the data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, currently 2800 hectares of land is used for saffron cultivation and therefore, 6.5 tons of saffron produced inside Afghanistan.
Comparison of past years shows that significant gains resulted from the government’s programs and widespread support of farmers, businessmen and marketing of country’s saffron.
As example, in 2014 in the early days of National Unity Government (NUG) administration the amount of land intended for saffron cultivation was 730 hectares and its production was 2700kg; thus the amount of production and cultivation of this product had multifold increase compared to the previous years.
According to the programs run by Saffron Development National Committee, the amount of land intended for saffron cultivation will reach up to 4 thousand hectares and its production ceiling will rise up to 14 tons, therefore, this program will annually increase from 70 to 100 tons in the next 10 years.
Part of government’s support and cooperation in this area mainly covered the establishing of quality control and assurance culti, training of farmers, scientification of production process, packaging and trading saffron with the assistance of domestic and international universities, establishing and expanding country’s saffron market in the region and the world.
3.Producing and Trading Honey:
Honey in addition to its health benefits and its contribution to disease reduction, it can be considered as one of the most significant factor in creation of employment and expansion of commerce. Last year’s data shows that the import of honey has gradually decreased, thus its production and trade had remarkable growth in the past three years.
According to the announcement of official sources, last year Afghanistan succeeded in producing 2.14 million kilogram of honey which has taken over more than 60 percent of the honey market trade. Almost 7 thousand individuals were busy in beekeeping farms out of which 700 of them were women.
In this regard, the following supports have been provided to the promotion and development of this industry by the government:
1-Developing of beekeeping policy and strategy;
2-Supporting and developing of National Beekeeping Union;
3-Establishing quality control laboratory for honey;
4-Providing efforts for standardization of beekeeping production and industry;
5-Introducing other beekeeping products and services (pollen production, bee venom, prapoli, royal jelly, queen training and pollination).
4. Soybean’s Cultivation and its consumption:
Soybean is considered one of the strategic agricultural products for maintaining and strengthening of consumers’ health. The reason for promoting soybean’s cultivation is because it contains reasonable amount of protein, omega oil and amino acid needed for improvement of people’s health.
In the last one and half decades, the cultivation of this plant has been promoted and it had considerable growth in the recent years. The relevant government agencies had significant success in the developing and expanding soybean’s cultivation as well as increasing its harvest with the cooperation of international organizations including WFP.
Currently, soybean’s cultivation is carried out in 33 provinces and, in 2016, more than 6 thousand tons of soybean is harvested, therefore, it is expected that this amount will rise up to 50 thousand tons of production.
Based on the reliable data in 2016, 17400 families have been busy in cultivation of soybean and thus this number will increase in 2017.
At the moment, there are 9 soybean processing plants operating in Kabul, Herat, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Takhar, Kunduz and Parwan provinces which produce biscuit, soybean flour, roasted soybean, tofu and sterilized soy milk. Moreover, the plants operating in Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif produce soy oil, flour and protein.
5.Production and Supply of Dairy Products
The dairy market has the consumption capacity of 30 million population of the country and beside that because of possessing good taste, the Afghan products also have significant opportunity for exporting abroad.
Growth and increase of the investment in the dairy production field show that the investors witness market growth and thus every year more investors are interested in investing in this field.
In this regard, the government with the cooperation of global organizations tried to help economic growth and create further opportunities for employment by providing assistance for the investors in this field.
According to the national program, the strengthening of this sector can directly create 200 thousand jobs for people and prevent the daily fleeing of about 529 thousand dollars outside the country.
Currently, 64 percent of domestic markets in the cities and 90 percent of the dairy needs in the rural areas are being supplied by the domestic dairy products and the remaining is imported from 22 countries. The government plans, with the motivation and support of investors, to gradually reduce the import of this product to zero.
6.Increase in Greenhouse Products:
The greenhouse products had significant amount of growth in the last three years especially in the last and current year. In 2016, 7400 greenhouses operated in the country which cultivated and produced consuming vegetables for the domestic market.
Based on the official data, in the last year, 29 provinces have harvested 138.2 thousand tons of greenhouse products. In addition to the expansion of the greenhouses, which satisfy the demands of the people, they reduced the import of vegetables from outside the country and created around 8 thousand jobs out of which 6298 of them belonged to women.
Currently, in 22 provinces and 66 districts through the “NHLP” project, which is already expanding, can provide needed vegetables in any season of the year. Every greenhouse, created by this project, can generate from 10 to 15 thousands Afghani on the monthly basis.
In the agricultural fields, other products have greatly increased especially in 2016, to prevent the prolongation of the story, we will discuss them in the separate articles.
Glancing at the data in both infrastructural and economic sectors shows that, in spite of war and insecurity, Afghanistan is moving towards economic prosperity; according to the various reasons, economic growth in some cases is slowly and sluggishly happening; but in some other cases it is moving in upward trend with remarkable speed.
Afghan government’s success in creation of both air and land transit and commercial corridors caused to mobilize again the trade and beside that the domestic agricultural products are finding their way into domestic and foreign market.
Even though Afghanistan experiences its challenging days in different dimensions; but in the near future different projects and programs are expected to be exploited and together we will witness their utilization and prosperity.
Sources of information:
1.Ministry of Energy and Water
2.Ministry of Agriculture and livestock
3.Ministry of Commerce and Industries
4.National Committee of Saffron