Fish Farming Market Growth in Northern Afghanistan

By Shakiba Saeedi

Some farmers in the north of the country say that fish farming industry in this part of Afghanistan is now more popular than ever. Ghulam Nabi runs a large fishing farm in the Garziwan district of Faryab province. According to him, now that security has returned to the rural areas, the fish market is booming.  He said that domestic tourists are coming to his farm, adding that his fish farm has become an amusement place.

“The fish market is better than in the past,” fish farmer Ghulam Nabi told 8am. “In the past, people could not come here because of the wars. Most people now come here from Maimana, Sar-e Pol, Sheberghan, and Mazar-e-Sharif to buy fish and have fun.”

Some young people who have come to Garziwan district from the northern provinces say that while they enjoy the natural landscapes, they also enjoy eating fish. “We are here for tourism today,” said Mohammad Arif, who came to Faryab from Sheberghan. “This place has good views and there are fish farms here. We have come to eat fish. There is a lot of delicious fish here. There are fish ponds here, we take the fish from the pond. We cook, we eat and we enjoy it.”

According to the previous government, about 200 fish farms have been established in the northern provinces in the past three years. Despite an increase in fish farms in the country, most of Afghanistan’s fish meat is still imported from Pakistan. Afghanistan currently needs more than 360,000 tons of fish meat per year, of which it produces only about 11,000 tons.

Khodaidad Haidari came from the Shirin Tagab district of Faryab to see a fish farm in Garziwan district. “We came here for fun,” he said. “There are more than seven fish farms here. It has very tasty fish, we always come here to eat fish.”

However, fishmongers in Balkh say the quality of domestic farmed fish is better but does not meet market demand. According to official figures, the city of Mazar-e-Sharif alone imports about 600 tons of fish a year from Pakistan.

Nematullah, who has a fishing job, says that domestic fish is both better and more expensive than foreign fish. “Domestic fish is relatively expensive, but Pakistani farm fish is cheaper,” Nematullah told 8am. “One kilogram of Pakistani fish costs 150 Afghanis while one KG of domestic fish costs 240 Afghanis. It is because domestic fish is produced less and therefore its price is higher.”

At present, a kilogram of raw fish sells for 170 Afghanis and a kilo of cooked fish for up to 250 Afghanis. Statistics show that Afghanistan produces about 11,000 tons of fish annually, while it needs more than 360,000 tons of consumable fish. Despite its many health benefits, fish meat is seasonally consumed in Afghanistan, and previously, fish meat was supplied only through rivers in the country, but today a large part of the Afghan market meat is obtained from fish farms.

The significance of domestic fish farming, even though it provides part of the food rich in protein needed by the country, is also an important source of employment for the unemployed in rural parts of Afghanistan. On the other hand, our country, with its unique climatic conditions and abundant natural facilities, has a good background for cold-water and hot-water fish farming. Breeding begins almost at the end of winter and ends about six months later, in the middle of the solar year.