Afghanistan: Herat cotton sector drops off due to lackluster market

Herat province has been known to produce two key agricultural products over the years, saffron and cotton. However, the cotton market has taken a dip in recent years due to the lack of interest in cotton from Afghanistan.

One cotton trader, Pedram Arbab said: “Locally produced cotton is not widely available in the market because no one buys as before.” Because of the decline in interest on local markets, the price has also dropped, he said.

Zarif Ahmad, another cotton trader, said that the weak economy was having an impact on the cotton market as people are not able to afford it.

Meanwhile, officials of the cotton traders union say that cotton exports have also decreased due to the poor quality of harvests. They have called on the agricultural department to train cotton farmers in the correct harvesting methods.

“The reason for the decline in cotton exports is that the world market does not accept Afghan cotton. Due to the improper collection of cotton, this product is placed inside plastic bags, which reduces the quality of cotton,” said Abdul Hakim Mutmain, head of the union.

Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, however, stated that they exported cotton worth $3.5 million to India, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey during the 1401 solar year (between 21 March 2022 to 20 March 2023).

In addition to the good quality of Herat cotton, the presence of two commercial ports – Torghundi and Islam Qala – for foreign exports, as well as the presence of processing companies have made Herat one of the most favorable provinces for the production of this valuable plant.