Afghan trader Mustafa of Omad Bahar Fruits Processing Ltd., through the assistance of USAID/Office of Transition Initiatives, Chemonics International/Afghanistan Stabilization Initiative – South and FAF Developments, has successfully shipped 25 tons of local Afghan-produced pomegranates to the United Arab Emirates. The fruit were sold in several prominent retail supermarkets where they were well received and commanded a high price.
In response to the neglect and devastation faced by local farmers following 30 years of conflict, USAID sponsored a series of programs which provided training and assistance along the entire chain – farm to market. One aspect of this program culminated with successful exports of fruit via the Afghan civilian-run Kandahar International Airport (KDH). The trader bought the pomegranates from local farmers, mostly from the war-ravaged district of Arghandab, and then paid for the air export and all associated costs. Farm produce has not been exported in this manner since the 1960s. Assistance was provided by USAID and its direct partners as well as International Security Assistance Force coalition partners and Government of Afghanistan officials to ensure challenges were overcome.
This successful export initiative has given hope to the struggling industry and a sense of pride and renewed hope for the local community at large. The news has been well-received; the story has been the talk of local media as well as local politicians and citizens. This has also provided a boost for the newly reinvigorated Kandahar International Airport and its Afghan civilian management, in close cooperation with the Afghan Border Police, who worked hard to comply with security and agricultural regulations to make the exports possible. Now that the process has been proven, many local farmers and traders are making plans for next year; the renewed hope is rejuvenating the stagnant local agricultural sector. Avenues to export other agricultural produce and even locally-manufactured goods are being explored and spin-off benefits are anticipated.
An Afghan produce trader exports two cargo plane shipments of pomegranates to Dubai. The produce was procured directly from Arghandab District farmers giving hope to an industry struggling after 30 years of war.