USAID provides cold storage in Farah, helping farmers profit

By Omar

Farmers in Farah province are relieved to have a cold storage facility with a capacity of 1,000 tonnes. USAID provided a majority of the project's budget, with some funding from Sanayee Ghaznawi, a private company in Afghanistan. US-based non-governmental organisation Roots of Peace implemented the project. Farmers are seen with their harvests at the facility on June 20. [Emran/Salaam Times]

FARAH -- Farmers welcome the construction of a large, well-equipped cold storage facility in Farah province with the hope that profits will increase and harvests will be protected from rot.

The cold storage facility, which can hold 1,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables, cost $300,000 to build.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) provided a majority of the budget for building the cold storage and the equipment needed to activate it, while part of the project's budget was secured by Sanayee Ghaznawi, a private company in Afghanistan.

A US-based non-governmental organisation called Roots of Peace implemented the project.

The cold storage in Farah province, seen here on June 20, can store up to 1000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables for up to two months. [Emran/Salaam Times]

The cold storage in Farah province, seen here on June 20, can store up to 1000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables for up to two months. [Emran/Salaam Times]

A farmer with his watermelon harvest in Farah on June 20. [Emran/Salaam Times]

A farmer with his watermelon harvest in Farah on June 20. [Emran/Salaam Times]

USAID provided a majority of the funding to build and equip the first cold storage facility for farmers in Farah province. [Emran/Salaam Times]

USAID provided a majority of the funding to build and equip the first cold storage facility for farmers in Farah province. [Emran/Salaam Times]

The cold storage facility has been operational for nearly a month.

It has two sections: one for storing fruit and the other for vegetables, said Mahmood Sulaimani, who manages the facility.

"This is the first agricultural cold storage built in Farah. With USAID's co-operation, were able to fulfil a years-long demand of the people of Farah," he said.

"Now, we can store agricultural products in the cold storage for two months and deliver them to the market when prices are better," he said.

Sixty percent of the profit goes to the farmers, while 40% is used to pay for the facility's fees.

The cold storage will transform the province's agriculture and help farmers economically, said Abdul Momin Faisal, director of Farah's Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock.

"Farah gets very hot during the harvest season of fruits and vegetables, which causes much of the produce to spoil."

"Every year, the prices of fruits and vegetables in Farah drop during the harvest seasons, resulting in farmers' financial losses," he said. "The cold storage will help farmers store their products and deliver them to the market at a more suitable time."

"The cold storage will prevent fruits and vegetables from rotting," he added.

Profitable produce

Farmers who have placed their produce in the cold storage are happy they will be able to sell them later at a higher price.

Ismail Sultani, 32, has sent almost two tonnes of tomatoes to the cold storage.

He said every year he had to sell his produce at a very low price for lack of cold storage. But this year, in a few weeks, he can sell it at a higher price.

"I am very happy that a large and standard cold storage is constructed in Farah," Sultani said. "This cold storage is very effective and has enabled us to store our produce for two to three months and then sell them at a higher price."

"Right now, each kilogramme of tomatoes is 5 AFN [$0.06], but in two months that price will go up to 30 AFN [$0.35]," Sultani said.

Mohammad Wali, 48, another farmer in Farah, has placed three tonnes of tomatoes in the cold storage.

"Economically, the cold storage has been very helpful and effective for us," he said.

Previously, without such storage, rotting produce would waste a year of farmers' hard work, he said.

This year Mohammad Wali expects to earn a profit, unlike in past years.

"With the absence of cold storage and exports, we were forced to sell our products at a low price," he said. "In most cases, our produce was not even sold and eventually spoiled."

"Building more cold storage [facilities] in Farah province will address the farmers' problems," he added.

Need for more cold storage

Since Farah is one of Afghanistan's agricultural provinces, it needs dozens of standard cold storage facilities, say Farah farmers.

According to Farah's Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, almost 50,000 tonnes of watermelons, 150,000 tonnes of tomatoes and 70,000 tonnes of cucumbers have been harvested in the province this year.

But every year, the province's fruit and vegetable harvest vastly outpaces demand, which drastically knocks down prices.

Nazir Ahmad, 45, a farmer in Qala Kah district, spent 200,000 AFN ($2,300) on his watermelon farm this year, but he has earned less than 150,000 AFN ($1,700).

"We work hard, and our agricultural products are of high quality, but there is no market for them," he said.

"Prices drop when we pick our crops, and we cannot even recover our expenses. Customers are poor and cannot afford fruits and vegetables."

"Our produce should be exported, but all doors are closed to us. We can't sell our products when there is no export and no customers in domestic markets," he added.

The lack of demand and the financial losses have discouraged many farmers from continuing to farm, Nazir Ahmad said.

Khair Mohammad, 65, a farmer in Pusht Rod district, cultivated tomatoes in greenhouses on 0.6 hectare of land, but part of his produce rotted amid the lack of demand, causing him almost 70,000 AFN ($809) in losses.

Now he has 500kg of tomatoes in the new cold storage facility.

"We need many cold storages to store our produce," he said.

"During our harvest seasons, prices fall greatly, but when we run out of produce, fruit and vegetables from neighbouring countries are imported and are available at a very high price," Mohammad said.

"For years, we have been asking the government to build cold storages for us, but no action has been taken yet," he said.

"Besides building more cold storage facilities, [authorities] should expedite the export of our produce," he added.

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All over the world, fruits and vegetables are kept in such cold rooms. The advantage is that neither the farmer nor the people suffer losses. When the seasonal fruits and vegetables reach the market, it is natural that all these fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the market, so they are definitely cheaper. In such situations, farmers suffer a lot. If there are cold rooms, fruits and vegetables are stored in cold rooms without need. When the season is over, they are returned to the market and sold at a reasonable price. In such a situation, neither the farmer nor the people suffer losses. More cold rooms should be built, but its standards should be taken seriously. Another thing is that arrangements for its electricity should also be made.


Cold storage facilities are more useful for the farmers compared to others. Farmers put their agricultural products in the cold storage, the price of which is very cheap in the season, and after two or three months, the same products gain a good price. All over the world, agricultural products are first kept in cold storage. Later on, when a good market is found for this product and a good profit for the farmer and businessman is seen in the market, after that it is offered to the market; therefore, it is a very good move and these cold storages should not only be increased but also strengthened.


These cold storages help preserve fruits and vegetables, otherwise, it is difficult to keep the fruits in this hot weather. Farah is a fertile province and the people of Afghanistan are poor. Vegetables and fruits cannot be sold in a short time and in this weather. The harvest cannot last long and the farmers will suffer economic losses. With the help of USAID, a cold storage was built in Farah, who will help the farmers and who will benefit from it. Such cold storages need to be built in other provinces too to help the farmers keep their fruits and vegetables.


Thanks to the USAID administration for building cold storage, but at the same time, we request them to increase the number of cold storage and make them in every province. This is not only our wish and request from USAID, but we also call on other private organizations, foundations, and government institutions to increase the number of cold storage. It is now a major vegetable time in the eastern provinces (it is the season), but it is sold cheaply, which causes severe financial losses to the farmers. A Mann [7 Kg] of tomatoes is bought by people in the market for AFN 35 to 50, which means that the farmers would sell it for AFN 20 or 25 in the field, who see a huge loss. Still, if there are cold storages in every province, I am sure that the people in charge of the cold storages can benefit, as well as farmers and gardeners. Not only are our vegetables offered to the market cheaply, but fruits are also in the same situation. Some time ago, good quality watermelons from Nangarhar farms were sold for AFN 40. The melons were sold at a similarly low price. When the pomegranates of Kandahar and Tagab come out, they have the same situation. The situation is worse for the apples of Logar and Maidan Wardak; eventually, farmers and gardeners will be forced to leave their jobs and occupations. So, thank you very much to USAID, they have done a great job building the storage, but if the number of cold storage increases, it will be a big job. In addition, the standard should also be consi


Cold Storage should be built in all the provinces where fruits and vegetables are obtained. Cold Storages should be made in the respective provinces to store the apples of Maidan Wardak province, the pomegranates of Kandahar, the oranges and sweet oranges of Nangarhar, the melons and watermelons of Balkh and Mazar-e-Sharif to be kept and get a lot of profit in later times. In addition to Cold Storages, the Afghan government should establish relations with other countries, especially Central Asian countries, so that Afghan fruits and vegetables can be exported. Another thing is that when Pakistan wants a way to Central Asia, the government of Afghanistan should also get a direct way to India so that Afghan exports can be delivered to the huge Indian markets.


This cold storage that is established in Farah is a very important work and will benefit the farmers. Farah is an agricultural province, and this type of cold storage will be very useful for the farmers. Farmers can store their products; watermelons, melons, onions, potatoes, and the like, in this cold storage, and later sell their products at a reasonable price. The farmers of Farah Province suffered a lot of financial losses every year due to lack of a cold storage for their products. The farmers of Farah province will gradually get rid of these financial losses. As an Afghan, I say this is good, and I request the international community to build more of such cold storages in Farah province, so that the problems of the farmers can be solved properly. Afghanistan is a backward country, and its people are also strange and poor. This kind of basic help will benefit the people a lot, because of lack of cold storages, every year the poor Afghan farmers sell their crops so cheaply that they can't cover the costs of fertilizer and water. In this month, Pakistani businessmen buy our agricultural products, and in the winter, the same agricultural products they bought from Afghan farmers at a very cheap price, then they sell them back to these oppressed and poor Afghans four or five times higher. This is my demand, to arrange the same kind of cold storages all over Afghanistan to solve the problems of our farmers. In every province where the cold storages are arranged, the farmers bri