Pakistan has increased its customs tariffs by threefold as the harvest season for pomegranates arrives in Kandahar province.
Pakistan is one of the major markets for Kandahar’s pomegranates. Gardeners in Kandahar export most of their produce across the border.
The Kandahar Chamber of Commerce and Investments says that Pakistan is charging up to 300,000 Pakistani rupees ($ 1913) per load.
“This is one of the problems -- Pakistan has imposed tariffs on pomegranate and grape loads of up to 300,000 Pakistani rupees – which is a threefold increase compared to previous years. We talked to Afghan government officials to help us deal with this, but that challenge has not yet been resolved,” said Nasrullah Zahir, head of the Kandahar Chamber of Commerce.
Abdul Jalil is one of the Afghan fruit exporters. He exports pomegranates and grapes annually from gardens in Kandahar's Arghandab district to Pakistan.
Abdul Jalil has been in the business for 22 years and is very concerned about Pakistan's increasing tariffs.
“This year 70 people worked in one garden. And while Pakistan has increased its tariffs, pomegranate prices have fallen in Pakistan; traders have been suffering hard,” said Jalil.
“Yesterday we sent a pomegranate truck to Pakistan. Here in Kandahar we sell 17.5 kg pomegranates for 24,00 Pakistani rupees ($15), while in Pakistan the price of pomegranates has fallen by 50%,” Jalil added.
A number of gardeners in Kandahar have criticized the Ministry of Industry and Commerce saying that over the past eighteen years the ministry has not been able to solve the problem of high tariffs with Pakistan.
“There was a profit from $319 to $638 for us per truck, but now there is no profit because the tariffs increased and we suffered,” said Aminullah, a gardener in Kandahar.
“The government must look into it and find an alternative to Pakistan. We suffer every year and Pakistan oppresses us,” said Abdul Ghafoor, a gardener.
A lack of customers is one of the main problems for Afghan farmers and gardeners, along with the problem of a lack of cold storage, which causes much unsold produce to rot.