Orchard owners have reported an increased yield of berries in southern Kandahar province this year, linking the hike to timely rains and an absence of crop diseases. They expect a huge quantity of berries being exported to foreign countries.
Berry gardens are in abundance in the Shah Walikot district, where a garden owner, Haji Mohammad Nasir, told Pajhwok Afghan News there were hundreds of berry trees in his garden.
Each tree produced almost double amount of berries this year compared to the previous year, he said, adding gardeners took timely action to prevent diseases from breaking out.
A Manarai village dweller in the Arghandab district, Abdulhai Kako, said he like other orchard owners were very happy over the increased production. He said they wanted their produce to be exported to foreign countries so they could earn more profit.
He said owners of grapes and pomegranates orchards were upset this year due to low yield. Grapes are being harvested these days, but most orchards have been badly affected by a disease, he said.
Another garden owner Abdul Salam said berries were a sensitive fruit which took little time to go decayed while being transported to far-off areas.
Therefore, he said orchard owners stocked and dried berries in order to sell them as dried fruit in foreign countries. He said they lacked facilities like storages, transportation and others to make more profit out of their produce.
A Khakrez district resident, Syed Mohammad, who daily carries berries for sale to Kandahar City, said every orchard owner brought part of their yield for sale to the city and dried up the rest. He sold a kilo of berries for 80 to 100 afghanis.
The provincial Agriculture Department also confirms the increase in berry production in Kandahar this year.
An official at the department, Shah Mohammad, said floods triggered by heavy rains this year had damaged many fruit orchards, but also benefitted some fruit-bearing trees, including berries.
He said the agriculture department had initiated efforts to ensure berries were skillfully packed for their export to foreign countries.
Trader representative Abdul Baqi said dried berries were exported to Pakistan, India, the UAE and other countries.
He said the exports last year stood at around 7000 tonnes, earning orchard owners million of afghanis.
However, he said berries exported to Pakistan were sold in the market as Pakistani product after its heir packing there. Baqi said Kandahar exported dried and fresh fruits worth above $63 million last year.