Eng. Abdul Baqi Beena, the Afghanistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) deputy head for Kandahar, said exports over the past 10 months included 2,000 tonnes of dried fruits, accounting for $49.848.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, he said that raisin, pistachio, fig, almond, various agricultural products were among the dried fruit exports. Fresh fruit export, earning farmers $4.327 million, weighed 21,000 tonnes.
Grapes, pomegranates, apricots, melons and apples constituted fresh fruit exports, according to the official, who said nearly 4,000 tonnes of medicinal herbs — worth $111,000 — were also sold abroad.
Additionally, 589,000 animal hides were sent abroad, earning livestock owners $6 million. For the first time, ice creams were exported to hot areas of neighbouring Pakistan, the trade leader explained.
“A Kandahar-based ice cream factory, called Yaaran, sent $10,000 products to Pakistan this winter,” Beena said, adding the exports weighed 9,600 kilograms — a whole new initiative.
The ACCI office-bearer noted a large quantity of fresh fruits — grapes and pomegranates in particular — were smuggled abroad. He estimated the values of smuggled fruits at millions of dollars.
He said 97 percent of the fruits were transported to Pakistan and India. Some of the fruits were also dispatched to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Germany and the United States.
Airlifting exports from Afghanistan, a landlocked country with no short land routes to the outside world, was an expensive proposition, he added. Afghan traders will be able to send their products to Europe if cargo flights are made available to them.
At recent meetings, he pointed out, Turkish authorities promised to arrange cargo flights to Kandahar and set up a consulate in the southern city. This would help boost exports to European countries, the official hoped.
A delegation of Afghan traders is expected to visit Turkey and hold negotiations with Turkish entrepreneurs on establishing a joint company. Beena is confident the initiative would pave the ground for increasing fruit exports to Europe via Turkey.
He asked the government to persuade Iran and Arab states to give Afghan traders transit facilities. Afghan products have many buyers in the Arab world, but the problem is how to transport the goods there.
Meanwhile, Kandahar businessmen complained that despite promises from the government over the past 14 years, they were had been offered no facilities for airlifting grapes, pomegranates and other fruits to the international market.
Haji Nanai Agha, head of Fresh Fruit Merchants Association, said they send most of their products to Pakistan and India. Businessmen in those countries make a lot of money by exporting the fruit under their own brand names to other nations.
He resented the non-implementation of a recent agreement with Pakistan. Under the deal, the Afghan trucks will be allowed to take exports through Pakistan to the Wagah border. He called for the early enforcement of the accord. -Pajhwok