Officials in Helmand province said Tuesday that 5,000 hectares of land has been cultivated in the province this year, and estimate that 23,000 metric tons of peanuts will be harvested.
A number of farmers in Helmand province are asking the government to invest in the development and processing of peanuts in the province.
Nad Ali district has the largest number of peanut fields in the country.
“This product is very easy and can be grown in a very short time and at a low cost; also it is only possible to cultivate in Helmand, especially in Nad Ali district,” said Tor Jan, a peanut farmer.
“The crop can be harvested in three months and we are very satisfied with the yield. Peanut cultivation needs less water and less expenses,” said Mohammad, a peanut farmer.
A number of farmers argue the government must create markets for peanuts in the province.
“Helmand is the only province in the south where peanuts are grown and yield a lot, but the problem is that we sell them at a very low price. We ask the government to create a special market for this product," said Islamuddin, a peanut farmer.
“The government has to create a way for us to send our crops to foreign countries as well as to other provinces of Afghanistan. If we are given a path, our crops will have a better market and better revenue,” said Gul Ahmad, a resident of Nad Ali district.
“In Helmand province, 5,000 hectares of land have been planted with peanuts and our estimation shows that this year we will get 23,000 metric tons of peanuts from the fields, which is an increase of about five percent over last year. We are also trying to aid the processing of peanuts,” said Zalmay Alako, head of Helmand's agriculture directorate.
Peanuts in domestic markets are a valuable crop and promoting their cultivation and harvesting in the country can be a suitable alternative to growing poppy for opium.