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Orchard owners seek cold storage facility.

Residents of the Khwaja Omari district in southern Ghazni province have demanded market and cold storage facilities for their fruits. There are hundreds of plum and apple orchards in the district but 50 percent of the yield is lost during the harvest and the rest is sold at dirt-cheap prices, farmers say. Income from the fruits was often less than the expenses incurred on them, orchard owner Ali Ahmad complained. Apples were picked at a time when their prices hit an all-time low, he said. Half of them went rotten due to the lack of storage facilities, the grower added. If a market or cold storages are constructed, the economy of orchard owners would improve, he continued. Another farmer, Shah Jehan, said his 430-trees garden had produced 700 kilograms of plums. If his orchard was properly looked after his fruit stored for some time, his income would shoot up, the farmer believed. Heavy summer rains had considerably damaged plums in the town, known for producing a variety of soft and fleshy fruits, said Samiullah Sharifi, district development council chief. He urged the government to growers find a good market for their produce, construct cold storages and take steps to control crop diseases. Fruit and potatoes grown in the district are sold cheaply due to the non-availability of the storage facility. Improved seed varieties and chemical fertilisers should be distributed to farmers to promote agriculture in the relatively peaceful district, located 18 kilometres north of Ghazni City, he stressed. Currently, the price of seven kilograms of apples is about 115 afghanis. If the fruit is stored, its rate would increases to 160 afghanis, said one orchard owner, Ghulam Rasul. "Trade in the Pakistani currency, still common in the area, is not in our interest." District chief, Muhammad Qasam Desiwal, also sought help for orchard owners. In order to improve marketing and agribusiness in the province, the cold storage facility should be made available, he suggested. Running cold storages needed smooth electricity supply which could not be provided by generators, said Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock Director Sultan Hussain Abbasyar. "We control plant and animal diseases; marketing fruits is the job of the Ministry of Commerce

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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Date:Oct 26, 2010
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