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Kabul Int'l Agriculture Fair Shows Resiliency Of The Afghan People
Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-11/09/c_131962474.htm
Source Date: Friday, November 09, 2012
Country: Afghanistan
Created: Nov 09, 2012

KABUL, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- In efforts to promote agriculture and attract investments in the field in the war-hit country, the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock kicked off on Wednesday an annual agriculture exhibition here.

Afghan Second Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili was among the first visitors to the Kabul International Agriculture Fair which, organizers said, would show that despite the sporadic fighting, the country's farmers continue to produce agricultural products.

The agriculture fair was scheduled to will wrap up Friday evening.

Traders and businessmen from Dubai, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Palestine and Germany have visited the fair. Some 160 local and a few foreign companies, including importers, exporters, wholesalers, producers and service providers, have displayed their products in the fair.

"This fair is helping us a lot to find clients. You see, all these products are grown and packaged by women in northern Parwan province, particularly by widows who lost their husbands in the war," said a female seller Shikiba Hashimi.

Hashimi said the fair was a welcome event because it shows the resiliency of the Afghan people, particularly Afghan women.

"The fair could help us sell our products and help improve the living standards of the women in our province," she said.

"I am encouraged by today's fair. We have very good vegetables and fruits, however, due to the war and conflicts I cannot go to far-flung provinces to see our farms and gardens at close range and buy the products," Ahmad Zahir told Xinhua at the Kabul International Agriculture Fair.

"I cannot make a trip around the country. I am not able to go to the Badakhshan province since it is far from here and the roads are dusty. But this exhibition brings fruits, vegetables and other products here from the province which is more than 300 km north of Kabul," he said.

Zahir said that what he liked most was Badakhshan's honey. "It 's the best honey in the world," he said.

The three-day event was the 13th agricultural fair held in Kabul since the overthrow of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

"There were lots of succulent fruits and green vegetables. I have been encouraged to drink saffron of Herat province instead of tea. I plan to buy as much as I can to give some to my friends as gifts," Zahir said.

"It is a nice fair. Particularly, I think this show is an occasion for introducing and marketing home-grown products to foreign and local businessmen. I am calling on government and concerned authorities to hold such exhibition at least twice a year instead of just once," said another Afghan, Mohammad Qasim.

The 47-year-old Qasim said the fair would give the opportunity for Afghan farmers and agriculture cooperatives to display their products and to familiarize themselves with modern agriculture machinery.

"We have juicy apples, sweet grapes, wonderful pomegranates, watery melons and watermelons but we do not have massive refrigerators to keep them fresh all the time. We still lack refrigeration facilities and this hampers our desire to export our fruits and other agricultural produce to neighboring countries," said Qasim, who comes from the eastern province of Kapisa.

He said the government and its international backers must help people to invest in agricultural sector in the country to further create job opportunities for people and to boost economy in the landlocked central Asian state.

The overall agricultural production, the backbone of the national economy, dramatically declined over the past couple of years due to drought as well as persistent fighting and instability in rural areas.

Only 12 percent of Afghanistan is arable and less than 6 percent is currently being cultivated.

Three decades of war had a devastating impact on the agriculture sector in a country where over 80 percent of population relies on agriculture.
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