President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said Saturday that the government is expected to start work on the construction of 21 water dams in the near future amid efforts to boost the agriculture sector of the country which is largely dependent on foreign exports.
Speaking during a gathering focused on agriculture in capital Kabul, President Ghani expressed concerns regarding the balance of imports and exports in the country, saying Afghanistan was once an exporter of wheat but the currently imports millions of tons of wheat on annual basis.
President Ghani further added that the government is focused on expanding the exports of the country in a bid to reduce the imports of products from outside the country, insisting on necessary steps to be taken in order to increase the agricultural productivity.
Emphasizing on a joint cooperation among all ministries to improve the agriculture sector, President Ghani said the sector should be turned into a profession to the Afghans considering that majority of the Afghans involved in the sector on a traditional level.
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Herat province is known as the mine of diverse grapes due to having and growing the best, precious and highest quality grapes in the world. The background of grapes growing in this province, goes back to several centuries ago. Over 130 types of grapes are being grown in Herat today out of which over 24 types are more available and supplied in local markets.
In a telephone contact with The Kabul Times reporter, the head of Reproduction Branch of Herat provincial agriculture department Bashir Ahmad Ahmadi said the grape season differs according to quality of grapes as from mid spring Rocha and Khalili grapes are available and supplied in local markets while in late October Mir Ahmadi and Fakhri grapes are available. Annually over 48 kinds of grapes are harvested from 7960 hectar grape yards in districts of Herat province.
Ahmadi went on to say that due to existence of plenty of delicious and sweet grapes in Herat. Particular programs have been undertaken on production, distribution and introducing of grapes to domestic and global markets.
He added, in 1393 the biggest grapes festival was organized and held in the provincial capital city of Herat in which tens different grapes were displayed that was sincerely welcomed inside the country and even transborders. Usually grape season and festival is celebrated by farmers and grape growers in Herat province.
He explained that every year over sixty percent of Herat grapes are processed to rasins.
The most famous kind of Herat grapes is called as Laal bagolidanah which is unique is taste, quality, shape, color and harvesting. Other kinds of Herat grapes are called Laal kalwadanah, Laal Abi, Laal Sorkh, Fakhri Safed, Fakhri Poshtgul, Fakhri Shast-e-Aroos, Husseini, Mir Ahmadi, Keshmeshi Maidadanah, Keshmeshi Danahpland, Sayebi, Serkayee, Rocha Safid, Rocha Sorkh, Khalili, Foshangi, Sangalaskri, Loghi Sorkh, Loghi Siah, Kasnadarah, maskayee and Shondolkhani etc.
According to Ahmadi, the major grape yards are located in Gozarah, Pashtoon Zarghoon, Enjeel and Obeh districts of Herat province. According to current updates, this year Herat grapes yards covered an area of over 7700 hectar land, and in current year, the grapes harvest has considerably increased. Beside that the exports of fresh fruits have also improved but still there are certain problems ahead of horticulturists one of the them can be lack of cold rooms or spring homes.
Agriculture experts in Herat said that proper use of methods of modern horticulture by garden owners and fighting fatal diseases such as Khakestarak are the reasons behind increase of grapes harvest increase in recent years.
In recent years, grapes trade has improved in Herat and in 2005 grapes were exported to Saudi Arabia for the first time.
And currently Iran, Turkmenistan and UAE are customers of Herat grapes and increase of grapes exports can cause horticulture development and support farmers.
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