The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) said on Friday work on a long-delayed cold storage project involving eight large units will be resumed soon and that construction will be completed within the next two years.
The Ministry said the design work of these units has resumed but so far no construction company has been appointed to build the facilities.
The ministry said this project, involving eight units in six provinces, was one still left over from the previous government but that once complete each unit will hold 5,000 tons of fresh produce.
Officials stated the facilities are expected to be completed in the next two years but that the lack of security was a challenge. They also said the absence of companies experienced in building such facilities in the country was another problem.
“We could not find a company equal to the terms of the contract inside the country, but we hope a company is found and can build the cold storages in the coming two years,” said Nasir Ahmad Durani, the Agriculture Minister.
Meanwhile, a number of stakeholders in the cold storage sector in the country criticized government for the delay and said these units can be built in under a year.
“The construction of those cold storage units is not a big deal and one that must take years; but the construction process must start because there is a huge need for such storage facilities,” said Dost Mohammad, who works in the cold storage sector.
Some MPs meanwhile said the five-year delay in building these facilities was a disgrace and called on government to finish this project as soon as possible.
“We have a lot of plans, but not very much is implemented. The government draws up good plans but it is not capable of implementing them,” said Mohammad Hussain Fahimi, an MP.
This comes amid a growing agriculture sector and the lack of cold storage facilities across the country is putting farmers and traders under enormous pressure.
Traders have said there is far too much spoilage of fruit and vegetables and that they are often forced to sell produce at cut rates due to the lack of such facilities.
They also said this was pushing up the volume of imports as the country was forced to bring in vegetables and fruit from neighboring countries during winter.