Zabul fig farmers worried as prices plummet amid bountiful harvest

Farmers in Zabul province expressed deep concern over the sharp decline in market prices for their figs, despite experiencing a robust harvest season.

They reported a staggering 50 percent drop in fig prices, with 4 kilograms of figs now fetching only 3,000 Afghanis ($39), compared to the 6,000 Afghanis ($79) they commanded at the same time last year. Zabul, a prominent fig-producing region in Afghanistan, is grappling with these price challenges even as the yield of figs remains high.

Mohibullah Niazai, a Zabul resident, lamented the financial losses suffered by local farmers due to the deteriorating market conditions.

“The fig market has taken a hit. It’s not as robust as we anticipated. People have incurred losses. Initially, prices were high, but they’ve sharply dropped. Figs are now stockpiled in Qalat and aren’t reaching other markets,” he stated.

However, despite these pricing woes, farmers are content with the increased fig harvest resulting from favorable rainfall. According to local residents, many people in Zabul face financial difficulties that hinder their ability to afford fruits.

Nematulllah, another Zabul resident, mentioned the adverse impact of last year’s floods on the fig harvest. He noted, “This year’s fig harvest is good compared to the previous year. Fortunately, it hasn’t been affected by any diseases.”

A significant portion of Afghanistan’s population depends on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood.

Residents of Zabul have voiced their concerns over declining sales, which they report have significantly dropped over the past month.

Ehsanullah, another Zabul resident, called upon the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to help open foreign markets for their agricultural products. He urged, “We need support not just for our fruits but for all of Afghanistan so that our produce can command fair prices.”

On the other hand, Taliban officials claim to have created a favorable environment for Zabul farmers to sell their produce. Ataullah Rashid, the Taliban’s head of agriculture for Zabul, stated that this year’s fig harvest is estimated at 21,000 tons, marking a 35 percent increase compared to the previous year. He said, “The Islamic Emirate [Taliban] has taken steps to facilitate transparent trading and curb exploitation by foreign traders who were deceiving the people.”

Local traders report that most of the fig harvest is being exported to Pakistan through Spin Boldak.