Published On: Mon, Aug 28th, 2017

Afghanistan Trade with India by Flying Shipments by Passing Pakistan

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Afghanistan trade with IndiaAfghanistan trade with India doesn’t seem to turn out well, Afghanistan’s plans to fly shipments from fruit growers in Southern India have gone unexpectedly. Tons of grapes and melons have been left to rot as officials struggle to find flights while playing blame games and pointing at trading for delays.

The problem clearly states the hurdles of a country rebuilding itself from its broke economy – it is a very critical situation for Afghanistan since it is dependent on foreign aids of millions of dollars annually.

Horticultural producers, who export nearly $360 million worth of goods each year, have long struggled with the challenges of transport in the mountainous nation. The flights offered them a way around frequent border closures by neighboring Pakistan.

But the system has not worked as promised, with just a handful of flights having carried goods to India, causing losses for some producers in Kandahar, 500 km (310 miles) southwest of the capital, Kabul.

Head of the region’s Kandhar Fruit Company, Haji Saduddin said that they had packed around 40 tons of grapes and melons but weeks passed without flights, they had to sell all those in even less than half the prices in local markets.

After meeting business leaders on the issue Afghan Saddar said that he wanted the officials to make sure that each flight at least carries 80 to 100 tons of fruit while leaving.

In an effort to add more flights other than the national flight Ariana Afghan Airlines, the chamber of commerce in Kabul has been negotiating deals with one more Afghan Sirline, Kam Air.

Since June 19, just one flight, carrying 60 tonnes of medicinal plants, has left Kandahar, Haji Nasrullah Zaheer, head of the city’s chamber of commerce told. Due to lack of flights, delicate fruits got rot even in the fruit season.

Fruit producers had long pressed for more air cargo services but disjointed planning and a lack of infrastructure, such as facilities for cold storage, had proved a stumbling-block.

Leaders in Kabul and New Delhi had trumpeted the plans as a way to avoid Pakistan’s strict limits on shipments between its neighbors, with which it occasionally has border disputes. Afghan officials are trading blame over the rotten fruit.

Ariana Afghan Airlines, which was to have coordinated flights through a subcontractor, told farmers in Kandahar its aircraft were too busy taking people to Makkah for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, Kandahar business official Zaheer said.

The problem occurred because a subcontractor had failed to provide a cargo aircraft, it was a clear case of mis-management and not that of flying hajj flights said Ariana President Mohammed Nader Omar, without identifying the company.

The plans provide for the government to compensate traders for losses, said Khan Jan Alokozay, an official of Afghanistan’s chamber of commerce.

But for some, any compensation could be too little, too late. “A number of people borrowed money and started fruit businesses, but now their investment is gone,” said Saduddin, the fruit company head.

About the Author

- An enthusiast working in Dubai as an Assistant Operations Manager. Writing about Pakistan and the latest happenings, trends around the globe is my passion. A dreamer, learner and a major foodie.