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During a large November 12 press event it was announced that for the first time Afghan farmers will export their world-renowned apples to the Indian market, a move that will dramatically expand Afghanistan’s agricultural exports and add to the prosperity of thousands of Afghan farmers.
The landmark agreement between Afghanistan and India will help Afghan farmers in Wardak and Gardez to export up to 3,000 metric tons of their produce.
Drought conditions have reduced India’s apple harvest, and exports from Afghanistan will help fill demand. Afghan farmers likely will receive more money for their apples in India than in neighboring Pakistan, despite the higher logistical costs involved in transporting the produce.
The export of the initial batch of the apples started last week. It is expected that an average 50 metric tons of Red Delicious apples will be exported from Wardak and Gardez to India each week. India requires Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) to ensure adequate measures have been taken against infestations. The PRA was a collaborative effort between the governments of Afghanistan and India. With the approval and support of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), an implementing partner of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) performed the test and submitted the results to Indian officials.
The opening of the Indian market comes just in time for the Afghan apple harvest. Farmers in Gardez must sell their apples by mid-December before the first frost sets in. Wardak farmers will be able to store their apples for as long as six months in two, cold-storage facilities provided by the Turkish Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the province.