Exporting Vegetables to Pakistan: 7kg of Onion Has Now Raisen to 400 AFN in Northern Afghanistan

Compared to last year, the prices of onions in the northern markets of the country have rapidly increased up to five times higher. The lack of storage, unprofessional storage facilities, and the exportation of onions into Pakistan are contributing factors to the rapid changes in onion pricing in the markets of the country. The inhabitants of the northern provinces, such as Jawzjan, Faryab, Samangan, and Sar-e-Pul, claim that the price of one kilogram of onions has become 60-70 AFN, while last year it was available only for 10-15 AFN.

Although under the control of the Taliban, the Ministry of Finance has reduced the tariffs on imported onions and tomatoes from 20% to 5%, the prices for vegetables, particularly onions, have remained the same in the markets. Complaints are made as hundreds of trucks filled with vegetables are being shipped to Pakistan on a daily basis. Therefore, the citizens are demanding immediate control of the prices as well as the establishment of professional cooling storage facilities within the country.

Jawad Ahmad, a resident of Sar-e-Pul, besides complaining about the markup in vegetable prices, states that “one of the reasons is the lack of cooling storage facilities in the province, while the export of onions to Pakistan is another reason. Therefore, the price of seven kilograms of onions has risen to 300-350 AFN, putting people in trouble.”

Ghulam Muhammad, a citizen of Aybak, the capital city of Samangan, has declared that “this does harm to our people. Last year, seven kilograms of onion cost 60-70 AFN, but this year, it has become 350-400 AFN, which is detrimental to unemployed and low-income people who cannot even afford to buy one kilogram of it. Therefore, we request the authorities to consider this and create cooling storages so that the farmers do not face any challenges and can sell their product at the right time.”

Meanwhile, the merchandisers and traders explain that the lack of standard cooling storage in the north leads to the direct sale of products at the end of each harvesting season, which are then exported to Pakistan at a cheap price and later imported at a higher cost.

In his conversation with the 8 am Newspaper, Baktash, a wholesaler who buys vegetables in bulk from the provinces and sells them in Kabul, said, “Since last month, the prices have gone up because the vegetables, particularly onions, are being exported to Pakistan. Pakistan stores the same product and sells it back to Afghanistan at a higher price.” Additionally, he believes that the heavy seasonal floods have destroyed the agricultural land in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has directly affected the prices of vegetables.

Furthermore, the retailers in the north claim that as the prices for vegetables have gone up, the frequency of purchases has dropped accordingly because, as they stated, the economic crisis in the country has left people financially vulnerable. Hence, as the prices increase, the frequency of purchases decreases.

The increase in charges for onions despite the cold weather caused a fruitful increase in the seasonal onion product compared to previous years. Therefore, the statistics reflect that compared to the 4,020 tons of collected onion in the previous year from Jawzja, this year, it has reached more than 5,544 tons and the reason for it is the use of modified seeds and their compatibility with the climate of this province.

The officials of the Taliban Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock in Jawzjan claimed that Afghanistan had exported tons of onions to Pakistan and Kazakhstan in the current year. Despite the tariff reduction on onions and tomato imports by the Taliban, there has not been a slight change in the high cost of vegetables in the north. Therefore, the Ministry of Finance has ordered a reduction of tariffs on onion and tomato prices from 20% to 5%. The Taliban manager in the Ministry of Finance says that the new law has been implemented since last month.

Lastly, the data shows that towards the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, around 300 to 400 containers of vegetables have been exported to Pakistan, which has also been confirmed by Muhammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Affairs, on his Twitter page.