Afghanistan exported 1,655 tons of pomegranate to Pakistan and India

afghanistan-pomegranateKABUL: Afghanistan exported 1,655 tons of pomegranate to India and Pakistan amid an unprecedented rise in pomegranates cultivation in the country this year, local officials in Kandahar said.

The head of the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) in Kandahar, Nasrullah Zahir, told RFE that the pomegranates were exported to Pakistan and India as the farmers have freshly started harvesting of the fruit in Kandahar.

Zahir further added that 1,140 tons of pomegranates have been exported to Pakistan while 515 tons have been exported to India so far.

According to the officials, the cultivation of pomegranates in Kandahar has increased by 43 percent this year and the authorities are looking to send the pomegranates sample to France as well.

This comes as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced last year a new $13.3 million program to make it easier for private sector firms to do business in Afghanistan.

The four-year Afghanistan Investment Climate Reform Program will be implemented by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. The program will work at the national and provincial levels to stimulate economic growth and enhance the country’s competitiveness. In addition to Kabul, the program focuses on major economic centers throughout the country, including Mazar, Herat, Kandahar, and Jalalabad.

The program was launched at a ceremony in mid-June last year at the U.S. Embassy. “The Afghanistan Investment Climate Reform Program addresses critical challenges faced by the private sector,” said U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan P. Michael McKinley. “Together with the Government of Afghanistan, which has reaffirmed its commitment to economic reforms, we will help promote investment and make Afghanistan an attractive place to do business.”

The program’s main goal is to reduce hurdles for new and existing businesses to operate effectively by simplifying regulations and reducing compliance costs by: 1) improving the legal and regulatory framework for businesses at the national and provincial levels; 2) streamlining procedures hampering private sector operations; and 3) encouraging growth and investment in key sectors.

The new program builds upon existing USAID-funded activities with the IFC/World Bank supporting reforms in construction permits and regulations within the context of the World Bank’s “Doing Business” indicators. -KP

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