Taliban continue to collect traditional taxes from Kunduz farmers

A number of farmers in Kunduz province of Afghanistan have said that despite a dismal harvest this year, the Taliban still collected Usher and Zakat, the traditional Islamic taxes.

Mohammad Amir, a resident of Kunduz, said: “This year, like previous years, the Taliban collected Usher and zakat; It is said that the Taliban has taken 70 Kg out of 7,000 Kg of wheat as Usher. Even if their (farmers) harvest was low, they were forced to pay Zakat.”

A number of farmers in Kunduz province, who delivered Usher and Zakat to the Taliban, said their harvests were hit by drought and the price of fertilizers and seed were high. However, the Taliban did not exempt them from paying Usher and Zakat.

Nuruddin, a farmer, said: “We thought that the Taliban would no longer collect Usher and Zakat. This year, I harvested 2.1 tons of wheat from 10 acres of land, which is much less than in previous years. That was half of last year’s crops. Though I could manage to pay living costs with it, the Emirate (Taliban) took 210 Kg of wheat in Usher from me.”

“It is not clear where this money will be spent. They have done nothing for farmers, they only give us notice when to collect Usher and Zaka,” he added.

Shepherds in Kunduz also said that the Taliban have collected Usher and Zakat from them.

Hekmatullah, one sheep farmer, said: “I have 100 sheep and I keep them with a lot of hardships. This year, the Taliban took four sheep [in Usher] from me.”

Meanwhile, officials of the department of agriculture, irrigation, and livestock of the Taliban in Kunduz said that they have collected 226 million Afghanis in Usher and Zakat this solar year and deposited it in the Taliban government treasury.

Amanullah Hassan, an official from the department, said that this was the highest revenue collected so far. “We want to use this money to provide facilities for farmers and ranchers and also to create cold storage units to solve their problems,” he said.

The Taliban used to collect Usher and Zakat from people and farmers before the collapse of the former Afghan government in addition to making members of the public feed them three times a day.

Since coming into power, the Taliban has continued to collect the taxes from farmers and shepherds, and others but there is no clarity on exactly what the money is being used for.

Usher and Zakat are traditional Islamic taxes. Usher is a 10 percent tax on harvest and Zakat is a Muslim’s duty to give 2.5 percent of their income to vulnerable people.