A group of Afghan business leaders at a virtual meeting with US embassy officials in Kabul on Monday called for the opening of Pakistan’s routes to Afghanistan’s exports, especially fresh fruit, as they claim that thousands of tons of the products have been left in storage over the last few months.
The entrepreneurs, who were mostly from southern provinces, said the government did not address their problem; therefore, they held the meeting with the US embassy officials to solve the issue.
Kandahar entrepreneurs said they accepted the government’s call to stop poppy cultivation and start farming fruit gardens, but sales of their produce cannot even cover expenses.
“Our economy is near to zero. The government is not paying attention. What should we do?” asked Sardar Mohammad, head of a union of fresh fruit and vegetable business people in Kandahar. “More than 30,000 to 40,000 tons of fruit has been left from the previous harvest season in storage,” said Abdul Ahad, head of the fruit exporters union in Kandahar.
“We will not pay taxes and will not complete customs documents. The government should leave us with Pakistan to do what we need to do (for exporting our products),” said Sayed Yaqut Shah, an Afghan businessman.
The businessmen said that a portion of their harvested fruit has become rotten as it could not be exported to Pakistan.
“If our problem is not addressed, we the businessmen will come together and will go to Torkham (crossing)… where we will not allow Pakistan’s exports into Afghanistan,” said Abdul Hafeez Rahmani, a dry fruit exporter.
According to officials from the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment, the US embassy officials vowed to address the problem.