Kabul/New Delhi, Nov.24 (ANI): The first shipment of Afghan apples for sale in the Indian market - branded the 'the Silk Road Harvest' - left Kabul for New Delhi by an Air India Flight on November 11, 2009.
This very special consignment was seen off at a function at the airport by the Afghan Minister for Agriculture, India's Ambassador in Afghanistan and farmers from the provinces of Kandahar, Ghazni, Paktia and Wardak.
According to a Ministry of External Affairs press release issued on Monday (November 23), in the Indian market, Afghan farmers will be able to receive four times the current low price that they are receiving for their apple exports. USAID experts in the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture have assisted with technical advice and marketing linkages with supermarkets and fruit markets in Delhi. The Government of India facilitated the mandatory Pest Risk Analysis for Afghan apples and will assist Afghanistan in training Afghan experts in meeting the phyto-sanitary standards required.
India provides a large and growing market for Afghan agricultural products, several of which - including Kandahari Anars and Kagazi Badams - have excellent brand value in the Indian market. Regional trade and transit arrangements for the transport of Afghan agricultural produce to the Indian market would facilitate both the growth of regional trade and prosperity, as well as the process of stabilization of Afghanistan and its reemergence at the cross-roads between Central and South Asia.
The growth of the Afghan agriculture sector is a key part of the efforts of the Government of Afghanistan to accelerate the process of reconstruction and development, provide an alternate source of livelihood for its predominantly rural population and counter the pernicious influence of terrorism, extremism and the narcotics trade.
Cooperation with Afghanistan in the agricultural sector is a key part of India's commitment to assisting the Afghan people in building a democratic, pluralistic and prosperous Afghanistan. Indian projects in the sector include the Salma Dam in Herat province, a cold storage facility in Kandahar, numerous Small Development Projects including establishment of demonstration nurseries, bore wells, culverts, canals, water supply projects and small water reservoirs, discussions on Indian assistance in establishment of an agricultural and technological university in Kabul, training of Afghan experts and provision of scholarships for Afghan students to study in India, and provision of high-protein biscuits to Afghan schoolchildren under a WFP programme and are all examples of India's commitment to helping Afghanistan in this important area that is of immediate consequence for its people, and for the international efforts to bring back peace and stability to Afghanistan.
It is hoped that the Silk Road Harvest is merely the first step in a process of freer and easier movement of goods in the region, which would allow Afghanistan to overcome artificial constraints on the development of its agricultural sector, improve trade and transit facilities, and contribute to the peace and stability of our region and the prosperity of its people. (ANI)