By: Atefa Alizada
KABUL: Farah agricultural officials say necessary steps have been taken to prevent from melon yield’s losses in the province. it is said that the watermelon yield has reached to 700,000 tons. Last year, watermelon was planted in 18,047-hectare field in Farah as the yield had reached to nearly 650,268 tons of melon.
This year, the watermelon yield has reached to nearly 700,000 tons as the melon has been planted in 19,150-hectare field in the province.
According to provincial director of agriculture, irrigation and livestock Abdul Manan Matin, by creating watermelon owner’s union, stopping the import of similar products from neighboring Iran and Pakistan and creating a committee for assessment the quality of domestic products, effort has been made to prevent from the yield’s losses this year.
“We’re created a union for watermelon owners and farmers and want to create such unions in district level to address their problems and demands and take part in contracts,” Matin said, adding that a standard and big market has also resumed its operation for farmers in the province; meanwhile, a high tonnage scale has been installed for farmers too.
Currently, the price of 1 kg watermelon is 1 AFG in Farah.
According to head of watermelon owner’s union Qudratullah Sadat, lack of market for selling and cold-store are considered as the main problems facing farmers in Farah.
“In previous years, a number of traders were trying to fill several trucks with raw and ripe watermelon and send them to Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and other cities; therefore, the name of Farah watermelon was introduced as bad because of some of traders in the province,” Sadat said.
He added that this year local government in particular the agriculture department as well as provincial chambers of commerce and industries have promised to prevent from exporting raw watermelon to other provinces of the country and pave the way for exporting the products to neighboring countries too.
“In previous years, we did not perceive the problems in a better way, but this year we have taken good steps as we’ve perceived the problem and now we know better what we do and what we don’t,” Sadat stressed, the provincial agriculture department is making effort to reach agreement with neighboring countries as Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
Although officials for the provincial department of agriculture are hopeful for betterment of the situation, farmers in the province are still concerning over losing the products.
According to farmers in Farah, only last year, they lost 5,000 – 500,000 or 600,000 AFG and have been hardly able to pay the previous year’s loans. They are still not optimistic despite of increasing the products in the province.
Previously, 10 – 12 trucks full of watermelon had been imported from Iran and Pakistan on daily basis, which had put negative impacts on domestic products in particular watermelon in the province.
Although local officials in Farah say currently imports of watermelon have been stopped from the neighboring countries, farmers stress that activity of a number of powerful figures and cooperation of a number of individuals in the traders union have caused that the situation does not improve.
Last year, dozens tons of watermelon were not sold in domestic markets and farmers faced with economic losses that even a number of farmers in a protest threw watermelon away on streets and roads, which was a big loss to farmers and traders. We will see this year that the new plan of the local government in particular provincial directorate of agriculture will change the destiny of this year’s products or not?