Pomegranates Carve the Way to Market

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The poor condition of the road reduced the ability of farmers to sell their crops for profit

22 January 2012 | Kandahar, Afghanistan

Haji Abdul Qavie is a pomegranate farmer who owns three orchards in the Arghandab District of Kandahar Province. Every year, he harvests 2.5 tons of the fruit. In the last five years, the degraded condition of the road that passes near his orchards has reduced his opportunities to ship them to the market.

“Last year, I made a deal with a buyer in the city and he agreed to come to my orchards to collect the pomegranates,” he said. They agreed to a price of $2.30/kg. However, the buyer found that the road near the orchards was impassable for his trucks. “The buyer canceled the deal,” lamented Qavie. As a result, he was forced to sell half of his harvest for $.92/kg and watched the other half rot.

To renew the Arghandab agricultural sector, the district governor requested assistance. With USAID funding, Central Asia Development Group implemented a project to repair 7 km of roadside canals, 25 culverts, and a 10 km stretch of road in a farming area. This included the stretch of road that passes near Qavie’s orchards.

Since the completion of the road project, Qavie has seen his price per kilogram increase by 400 percent. This year, he was able to command a price of $3.68/kg. The project has also opened the doors to the international market. Recently, the farmer contracted with a buyer in India to sell his pomegranates for $4.60/kg.
Qavie is just one farmer in the area who is very grateful for the completed project. “Before, the road wasn’t wide enough to allow trucks to get to my farm. Now that the municipality has finished this project, big trucks are able to carry my pomegranates to the market and I can hire more workers for the harvest. I’m very happy with the project and I want the government to do more,” he said.

Even in the most volatile provinces, USAID works with the Afghan government to improve the government’s ability to respond to community needs and to earn respect among its constituents.