On the verge of the wheat harvest within the country, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) ordered customs to prevent the export of wheat to meet people’s needs inside the country.
Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) said that Afghanistan is facing a wheat shortage, especially as the country is experiencing drought.
Based on the statistics by MAIL, Afghanistan has been short between 1.5 and 3 million tons of wheat to feed the population in recent years and smuggling it abroad causes more challenges.
“A number of people are taking wheat out to Iran and Pakistan, so we ordered related officials at the customs to not allow this,” said Hedayatullah Badri, acting minister of finance.
“The Ministries of Finance and Agriculture jointly ordered all borders to ban exports and prevent them,” said Mesbahuddin Mostaeen, spokesperson for MAIL.
Meanwhile, the Chamber of Craftsmen says that wheat and flour are smuggled from Afghanistan to neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan.
“Some are smuggling flour to Iran and Pakistan which negatively affects the price of wheat and flour in the country,” said Norulhaq Omari, the head of the Chamber of Craftsmen.
A former official at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries said that the Russian-Ukraine conflict has caused many countries to face grain deficits, especially wheat.
The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment ACCI said that Afghanistan was importing flour and wheat mostly from Kazakhstan and Russian.
“Until now Kazakhstan has not officially certified the issue. The objective of the Afghan delegation under the leadership of the minister of agriculture and irrigation and head of the wheat processing factories union to convince the Tajik officials on the issue,” said Mohammad Shabeer Bashiri, head of the industrial council.
Based on statistics, Afghanistan currently has nine storage facilities in nine provinces.
Afghanistan needs six million tons of wheat annually and of this, 4.5 million tons comes from domestic sources and another 1.5 million from abroad.
According to MAIL, Afghanistan’s current storage capacity for cereal is estimated to be 270,000 tons. However, MAIL officials have said government would like the private sector to invest in the establishment of such facilities – especially for wheat.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock said on Sunday estimated that wheat production in the country will be down 20% this year due to drought.
The ministry figures indicate that wheat production in the country could be about 4 million (metric) tons this year, and the drought will reduce wheat yield by 1 million (metric) tons.
Ministry officials said the drought has impacted 75 districts in various parts of the country, making life difficult for farmers and livestock owners.
Akbar Rustami, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL), said: “Afghanistan’s annual need is 6.4 million metric tons. Considering the 4 million metric tons of wheat production this year, we will have a deficit of 2 million metric tons.”
According to MAIL officials, the reduction in wheat yield will require Afghanistan to import flour and wheat, which will lead to an increase in wheat prices.
According to information provided by MAIL, 3 million heads of livestock in the country are in danger of dying this year due to a lack of feed and water.
To prevent the loss of livestock and to meet farmers’ problems, MAIL said that it has begun the process of distributing animal feed to farmers in cooperation with donor organizations.
The State Ministry for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs said the government has only limited resources on hand to address the drought’s impact.
“It is anticipated that the drought will impact the people of Afghanistan in several zones. In our drought management plan, we have divided areas that will be impacted by the drought into eight zones, and the southwestern, western, and northwestern zones will be impacted by the drought more than other zones,” said Abdullah Walizada, media adviser to the State Minister for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs.—Tolonews