Farmers in the western province of Herat will produce more than 135,000 tons of grapes this year as the harvest season has arrived, an official of Herat’s Agriculture Directorate said.
There would be a 15 percent increase in the farmers’ crops, said Bashir Ahmad Ahmadi, deputy head of Herat Agriculture Directorate.
Injil district in the north of Herat has the most number of vineyards in the province.
“We have more than 8,000 hectares of vineyards [in Herat[,” Ahmadi said.
Herat farmers said they face lack of proper market for their products and lack of cold storage facilities to store grapes there.
Herat’s grapes are mostly sent to India through a newly-established air corridor. But farmers said the Herat Airport does not have the capacity to load the grapes and send it to India.
“President [Ashraf Ghani] said they have inaugurated the air corridor but they said that the planes cannot land at the airport. This is harmful to farmers,” said Gul Ahmad Ahmadi, a farmer in Herat.
“When the president visited Herat, he vowed to inaugurate the lapis lazuli route [a trade and transit route between Afghanistan and Europe] and will send Afghan fruits to Asian countries. But nothing has been done so far,” said Sayed Rahim Sadat, another farmer.
Herat governor’s spokesman Jailani Farhad said that efforts are underway to export Herat’s fresh fruits to other countries through the lapis lazuli route and air corridors.
“This year we witness an increase in fruit harvest in Herat and we hope to be able to export them to countries in the region through the lapis lazuli or the air corridor,” Farhad said.
Herat has 120 types of grapes, most of which are exported overseas.
Most of the vineyards are located in the Injil, Guzara, Pashtun Zarghun and Obe districts of the province.
Figures by the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that Afghanistan produced up to 1.1 million tons of grapes last year.
Afghanistan’s grapes are mostly sent to India and Pakistan.