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Alternative to Poppy Cultivation—Afghan Farmers’ Viewpoint

in Afghan Business

Alternative to Poppy Cultivation—Afghan Farmers’ Viewpoint

Agricultural specialists, farmers, representatives from development councils and the Department of Agriculture conducted a meeting yesterday to investigate the challenges and options for alternative crops to poppy growth.

Farmers complained about the poor quality of seeds and fertilizers, lack of water for irrigating crops, lack of vegetable pests and lack of markets for selling their products.

Haji Abdullah, one of the farmers from Helmand, proposed that the government should provide the opportunities to enable the agricultural products to enter both local and foreign markets so that farmers begin to turn to alternatives to poppy production.

Mr. Abdullah said that the government should support farmers and buy their agricultural products at reasonable prices.

Engineer Abdullah Ahmadzai, the Head of Helmand’s Farming and Irrigation System, said that an effective work is being done to mechanize agriculture in this province.

According to Mr. Ahmadzai’s statement, 197 agricultural cooperatives have been created so far to strengthen and support the farmers in this province. And, more than 700 tractors and other agricultural machinery have been provided to the farmers. In addition, about 82 thousand farmers have taken various training programs through the Departments of Agriculture and other agricultural organizations.

The Head of Helmand’s Farming and Irrigation System considers lack of electricity for cold storage of certain agricultural products, lack of technical personnel for the processing of agricultural products to foreign countries, and lack of coordination between farmers and merchants are of the most important problems to finding suitable alternatives to poppy production.

Meanwhile, a number of agricultural experts say that in order to match the supply and demand of the agricultural products, farmers should receive trainings.

Soor Gul Khan, one of the agricultural experts present at the meeting, said: “Today, there is no market for agricultural products, therefore, the farmers should not produce excessively bur rather produce according to existing demand.”

The farmers at the meeting also suggested encouraging domestic businessmen to invest in the agricultural sector of the province. According to the farmers, although Helmand produces more than 8 metric tons of wheat annual, the province still imports flour from Pakistan.

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