Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 15th, 2021

Has a Surge in Export Made Changes in Local Economy?


Has a Surge in Export Made Changes  in Local Economy?

Afghanistan’s central location in Eurasia makes it a hub for goods and services. Benefiting from its bilateral Trade Agreements and membership in the World Trade Organization, Afghanistan has stepped up its exportation in recent years, especially through establishing air corridors.
Afghanistan has fertile soil and its fruit is highly popular in the region. The country has exported 255 tons of fresh fruit so far this year to India, Europe and some Arab nations, making 30 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018.
Afghanistan’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture as 85-90 percent population in rural areas is engaged in it, which is essential for the livelihood of 76 percent of the total population and accounts for about a quarter of the country’s Gross Domestic Product in recent years. Fresh fruit, vegetable, nuts, olive, wheat, maize, sugar can, saffron, to name but a few, are the agricultural products of Afghanistan. 
A surge in the exportation of the country’s domestic products is a very happy news for Afghan citizens in general and for Afghan farmers in particular. Supporting domestic products will be essential for contributing to local economy and generating incentive for farmers to work harder. If the country’s agricultural products are not supported, farmers are most likely to resume cultivating narcotic drug.
Despite the surge in exportation, challenges till remain formidable. Lack of modern facilities at the country’s airports and ports, including cold storage facilities and required scanners, are cited a major challenge for Afghan investors. In addition to air corridors, the country has to establish ground routes and railroads for exportation so that it could make exportation affordable for ordinary individuals.
Moreover, lack of cold storage causes serious harm to Afghanistan’s agricultural products, including fresh fruit. Take Bamyan province for example, farmers are unable to preserve potatoes and have to transport them to provinces and capital cities and sell them in low price so that their products are not spoiled. Has the government paid attention to public concern in this regard?
To keep the increase in exportation sustainable, fundamental problems should be addressed. For instance, the government, in addition to establishing ground routes and cold storages, should industrialize the products. Afghan universities have to build Research and Development Centers to use agricultural products for other purposes such as medicine, etc. Afghan lecturers in agricultural fields have to do researches and foreign experts have to be invited to support them for the better use of the agricultural products. Afghanistan still has problem with a very basic issue which is packaging. In terms of business, packaging also plays a key role in the sale of products.
Khanjan Alokozay, acting chief of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry is cited as saying, “India is checking all our goods in all their ports and they unload all the goods and tear the packages. This damages our goods”. His concern is justifiable and this issue should be resolved.
This year, local farmers also complained about the low price of fruit and lack of proper road for transportation, which increases the transportation cost. In many countries, including China, provinces are linked through proper roads and transportation facilities such as railroads to support domestic import-export. Meanwhile, state-owned companies make contract with local farmers to transport and sell their products to larger cities as well as outside their countries.
Moreover, if there are safe and proper roads, local tourists will tour different provinces and buy local products, which will contribute much to the economy of people.
With this in mind, the government should report how many people have been lifted out of poverty and what is the number of poverty-alleviated areas or provinces in a certain year in the wake of a rise in exportation. The exportation has yet to make tangible changes in local economy. The level of poverty as well as unemployment is still extremely high. Farmers still tend to cultivate narcotic drug to get out of poverty.
The Afghan government has to establish companies for supporting local products in one way or another and create jobs for people so as to lift citizens out of poverty. Indeed, poverty is the main concern for the public and Afghanistan has long way to go so as to promote the country’s economy.
The government should pave the ground for foreign investment and offer free lands for years for foreign companies to be established and ensure their safety by guarding them heavily. If the country import each and every thing, the economy will remain fragile. Thus, domestic products should also be supported in the country to decrease the level of import from outside.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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