Afghanistan was a major exporter of fruits and nuts to India and other markets in the 1960s and 1970s. Afghan farmers now have the opportunity to introduce their apples — some of the crispest, sweetest, and largest in the region — to the biggest market in Central Asia.
Farmers in Afghanistan are celebrating the export of more than 12 tons of apples to India, an important milestone in the country’s efforts to revive its once-prosperous agricultural sector.
An Air India plane carried 3 tons of Afghan apples to New Delhi in November 2009, while the remaining 9 tons travelled by road through Pakistan. An estimated 400 tons of apples will be shipped in 2010 to India, where drought conditions have reduced the Indian apple harvest.
This milestone was achieved with the assistance of the USAID-funded Accelerating Sustainable Agriculture Program
, which is working to improve global competitiveness of Afghanistan’s agribusiness sector, increase sales of agriculture products, and create new jobs. The apple exports are part of the project’s efforts to rebuild Afghanistan’s agriculture sector, which has been decimated by decades of conflict, and to provide legal economic alternatives to poppy cultivation.
“Today makes history. This is the first time that we export apples to India. This is a very major step in enhancing our farmers’ economy,” said Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi at a news conference in Kabul, according to published Agence-France Presse reports.
The shipment will garner farmers four times the profit for each apple in New Delhi as it would in Kabul. An average of 50 tons is expected to be shipped each week to India.