Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Afghanistan's potato prices almost double this year

Farmers in central Bamyan province collected 300,000 tonnes of potatoes this year, less than last year’s yield, but the crop’s price doubled in 2016.
Around 90 percent of people in Bamyan are reliant on farming. Potato is one of the main agricultural products of the impoverished province, which produced 300,000 tonnes of potatoes in 2016, compare to last year’s 310,000 tonnes. However, potato prices almost double this year. The rate of per seven kilograms of potato is 90 afghanis, up from last year’s price of 50 afghanis, the agriculture and livestock director said. Abdul Wahab Mohammadi told Pajhwok Afghan News last year’s low prices caused a decline in cultivation of the crop. More than 10 types of potatoes could be grown in Bamyan, meeting 50 percent of people’s requirement, he said. More than 700 potato storage facilities have been built this year and each could store up to 30 tonnes. “We have storage capacity for only 10 percent of Bamyan potatoes. The rest of yield is at risk of being damaged by cold.” Afghanistan would no longer need to import potatoes if it enhanced its storage capacity for the entire crop, Mohammadi believed, listing lack of access to market, improved seeds and a microfinance system for farmers as the main problems. The growers’ economic situation would considerably improve if the ministries of agriculture and commerce draw up specific plans for promoting agriculture, the director hoped. Mohammad Ali, a farmer who collected 10 tonnes of potatoes, was not satisfied with its current price.“Growing potatoes exacts a heavy cost, as we have to employ workers in the cultivation and collection process. “We should also purchase fertilizers three times during the potato season. If the government distributes improved seeds and fertilizers to farmers, cultivating the crop will be more beneficial,” he remarked. Trader Nasim Haideri said: “Potatoes in Bamyan have one season and all farmers sell the crop at the same time that causes the price to go down. Earlier in the year, we bought seven kilograms of the crop for 110 afghanis but the rate later fell and caused us losses.” “Currently potatoes are sold inside the country while in past years, Afghanistan exported the crop to Pakistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan,” he recalled.

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