JALALABAD: Farmers in eastern Nangarhar and Laghman provinces say their agricultural yields have improved, but they lack market and cold storages to sell and protect the harvests.
The farmers say they need cold storages to keep their produce from decaying until prices of the vegetables are increased. Vegetables after being collected from fields are transported to Kabul and other areas from Nangarhar for sale, but the prices are low.
Agriculture experts believe a proper mechanism to handle the produce is required to enable farmers to earn money. Farmers in different areas of Nangarhar province say they incurred losses every season.
Vegetables are mainly grown in Surkhrod, Behsud, Kama, Khewa districts and areas near Jalalabad, the provincial capital.
Zameer Khan, a resident of Kumbad area in Behsud, said he incurred loss in cauliflower crop, but earned some money from tomato crop sale but again suffered losses in eggplant crop. “I transferred eggplant to the market today and sold 7kg against 10 rupees while 20 rupees were spent to collect the eggplant from the field and transfer it to the market.”
Tribal elder of Kama district Haji Mohammad Zarrab expressed similar views and added although market existed in the district and vegetables were sold yet at low prices. The residents of Laghman district also made similar complaints and said the government has no plan to improve lives of farmers.
Qand Agha, a farmer from Qarghyio district, said vegetable production had increased compared to the past but their prices remained low and the government needed to pay attention to the issue otherwise farmers would again start growing poppy.
He said two cold storages had been constructed but they could not be put into service due to the lack of attention from the authorities.
In neighboring Laghman province, Shah Mard Khan, a tribal elder, told Pajhwok that vegetable growers suffered losses due to lack of market for their products and low prices. He demanded cold storages and facilities for transferring agricultural products to other parts of the country for solving the problem.
It is believed providing improved quality seeds and other agricultural services to farmers is the agriculture ministry responsibility, but Rafiqullah Rahimzai, the Nangarhar agriculture director, said it was not their responsibilities.
“Finding market for agricultural products is not our job, but promotion, controlling agricultural products and some other issues are our responsibilities,” he said.
However, Nangarhar governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, said two major and some small markets had been built for vegetables in the province.
Muhammad Jamil Khushal, Laghman agriculture director, agreed agricultural products lacked market but said some efforts had been done in the area with the help of private sector.
He said building cold storages in the province had been discussed with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and the problem would be resolved in near future. “Farmers collecting their harvests and offering them to market the same time is a major problem because the amount of products exceeds the demand,” he said.
Khushal said they were trying to create farmer unions based on which farmers would offer different products at different schedules and according to the market demands. Vegetables grown in Nangarhar and Laghmar are exported to capital Kabul and many other provinces but farmers are not happy with the income.