Lack of a domestic market for watermelon farmers in Farah has left them with no option but to sell their products at the going rate – Afs1 per kilogram, which is the equivalent to 0.013 dollars, a problem that existed last year and remains unchanged despite the government’s promises to export the watermelon abroad.
The farmers took a big part of their products to the city of Herat, which is close to Farah, where traders sell it for Afs4 per kilogram.
Hundreds of trucks loaded with watermelon were brought to the city of Farah on Tuesday by the farmers to protest the “lack of the government’s attention” to their plight. They called on the government to find a market for them. They also said that they were encouraged by the government's help last year to increase their yield.
In Kabul, the average price for one kilogram of watermelon is Afs10 ($0.13).
“I cannot even afford the transportation expenses,” said Noorullah, a farmer.
“Each farmer has faced Afs500,000 to Afs1 million losses. There is no support from the government,” said Abdul Shakoor, a farmer.
Officials said that helping with agricultural products is part of their plans every year.
“The increase in agricultural products--particularly watermelon--is part of the Agriculture Ministry’s plans for Farah and other provinces,” said Akbar Rustami, spokesman for Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.
The private sector in Herat said all routes for the export of watermelon are closed.
“Neighboring countries like Turkmenistan and Iran are self-reliant in terms of production, and the Pakistan route is closed for Afghanistan’s watermelon,” said Yunus Qazizada, head of Herat Chamber of Commerce and Investment.
The Farah farmers said that hundreds of tons of watermelon were wasted last year, leaving them with heavy financial losses.