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60pc of berry harvest perishes every year in Panjsher

60pc of berry harvest perishes every year in Panjsher

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Nov 13, 2016 - 16:52

PARAKH (Pajhwok): The agricultureinfo-icon director of central Panjsher province says a scheme is being initiated to collect berries and prevent them from going waste.

According the Irrigation, Agriculture and Livestock Department, more than 100,000 trees of two kinds of berries (black and white) exist in Panjsher. These trees mostly exist in Shutul, Anaba and Rukha districts. Panjsher’s berry is very famous throughout the country. Every summer, people from all over Afghanistaninfo-icon come to Panjsher for Mela-e-Toot (berry funfair).

Panjsher residents express concern over the wastage of a high amount of berry due to the lack of necessary facilities for drying and collecting berries.

Togul Rahmani, a resident of Parakh city, told Pajhwok he has 50 berry trees but 75 percent of his harvest was wasted because collecting berries needed more time and hard work and they lacked necessary facilities.

He said the 50 trees produced around 30 tons of berries and a certain amount of which was used in making Talkhan, a local sweet, for his family. He sold the remaining berries and couldn’t dry enough berry this year as there was no one to assist him and his wife was busy with household works.

According Rahmani, reasons behind the wastage of a big amount of berries was open area for berry trees, livestock, office works and better economy of some people.

He, however, added that installing nets under berry trees and covering them could ther fruit from being wasted and people would become more interested as the price of one ton of berry hovered between 400 and 1200 afghanis in the market.

Seema, a resident of Manjhor valley, said men only shook trees while womeninfo-icon performed most of the needed works like collecting, holding nets and drying.

She said they collected only 12 tons of berries from 33 trees and sold five tons -- 450 afghanis per ton. They stored three tons and used four tons in making Talkhan. She would have dried more than 30 tons of berries if she had collected berries from all of the 33 trees.

Jan Agha, a resident of Anaba district, said, has thirty berry trees. Most of the berries in his garden were wasted due to a lack of necessary facilities.

He could only dry 10 tons of berries. “We historically plant berry trees on areas which don’t have grass underneath them. The berries fall on dust, that’s why most of the berries are wasted”, he added.

He also said most in Pajnsher lacked suitable places to dry berries. He said it was not appropriate to dry berries on roofs or in open places, a reason why people were not much interested in drying berries.

“Mostly women collect berries in other areas, but in our area, women cannot go to fields to collect berries because the main road has passed through here,” he added.

Gul Mohammad, a shopkeeper in Anaba district who sells dairy products and fruits, said dried berries had good market in the province. “I sell up to 10 tons of dried berries daily. I pay up to 500 afghanis per ton and sell them for up to 800 afghanis”, he added.

The people of Panjsher asked the provincial agriculture department to provide them necessary facilities to collect berries and dry them.

The provincial agriculture and livestock director, Mohammad Rauf Yaqoobi, confirmed the wastage of more than 60 percent of berries or up to 10 thousand tons annually. “This estimation has been done by a private company named “Omed Bahar”.

He said the company with donation from USAIDinfo-icon would purchase five tons of berries every day and transfer them to Kabulinfo-icon for making berry juice, but the company had ceased operating.

He said Panjsher’s berry was famous and had good market, but people still used old ways of collecting and drying them. No governmental or non-governmental institution has taken any step for providing necessary facilities to collect berries in the province.

Appointed six months ago as the director, Yaqoobi has been eager to use methods used in Turkey for collecting berries. “Trees in Turkey have nets installed underneath them,” he said.

“I want to change the collecting system by installing nets underneath the trees; berries will fall in the net and will dry at the same place. This will bring ease to the people”, he said.

Yaqoobi said the technique would be applied to some areas as a pilot project. He would later extend the scheme throughout Panjsher with funds from corporations.

ssmea/ma

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