THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search


Raisin houses get a facelift

AFGHANISTAN: Afghan farmer Abdul Jalil Gulzar sits by a pile of raisins in the squat mud brick shed where generations of his family have dried their grape harvest.

constructioneconomicspropertyland
By AFP

Sunday 31 December 2017, 12:00PM


An Afghan farmer and residents enter a newly-built room used to dry grapes in the Deh Sabz district of Kabul. Photo: Wakil Koshar  / AFP

An Afghan farmer and residents enter a newly-built room used to dry grapes in the Deh Sabz district of Kabul. Photo: Wakil Koshar / AFP

Such traditional huts have long been used to hang and desiccate the fruit, but now the keshmesh khanas – the Dari term for raisin houses – are getting a facelift as Afghanistan looks to improve its yield.

The country once accounted for 10% of the global raisin market, but nearly four decades of conflict have driven its share of the world market down to just 2-3%.

In a bid to boost productivity and earnings, the agriculture ministry and aid groups are financing new modern khanas.

“The new raisin house has much more capacity and they have a single purpose (to dry the grapes),” Gulzar said inside the rustic khana built by his father in Dhi Sabz district near Kabul.

The Afghan agricultural sector, is the main driver of the economy and biggest employer.

Hajji Malek Zabet shows off his new brick raisin house near the Afghan capital. Inside the cement-floored room are neat rows of metal hanging racks where grapes drape down like vines in a jungle.

Afghanistan boasts nearly 100 varieties of grapes which are grown across the country and celebrated in popular poetry, nursery rhymes and proverbs.

In the absence of a winemaking industry, which is prohibited in the Islamic country, many farmers turn their grapes into raisins which are easier to conserve and bring a higher price.

Fresh grapes sell for an average of 300 afghanis (about B141) for seven kilogram, while just one kilogram of raisins fetches more than 1,000 afghanis (B472).

Though the profits are nothing compared to the amount farmers can reap from what is now Afghanistan’s biggest export: opium, the lifeblood of the Taliban insurgency and an economic lynchpin for many Afghans.

QSI International School Phuket

A recent UN report showed that the area under poppy cultivation has hit a record high, underscoring the importance of providing farmers with successful alternatives.

Afghanistan produced nearly 900,000 tons of grapes last year. However, it only exported a fraction – 111,000 tons of fresh grapes and 15,000 tons of raisins, according to government data.

A lack of cold storage facilities and strict import requirements in many overseas markets means the bulk of Afghanistan’s grape crop ends up being sold in local bazaars at harvest time, causing a glut and driving down prices.

“Basically these new keshmesh khanas have three effects: they remove fresh grapes from the market and improve the quality of the process and product, and support prices,” said Abdul Samad Kamawi, national horticulture coordinator at the agriculture ministry.

But even with the improvements, Afghanistan’s rudimentary growing and processing methods means accessing export markets beyond Pakistan, India, the UAE and Russia is difficult.

“Despite their know-how Afghans are still struggling to meet European criteria which are increasingly stringent,” a Western importer said.

Some companies are going hi-tech to lift the quality of their raisins.

Tabasom, a major exporter, has two production lines in Kabul equipped with X-ray machines and metal detectors to ensure only the best raisins are packed and sent abroad.

The drying process in the new brick and cement khanas is quicker and cleaner, but Gulzar is stubbornly keeping his earthen raisin house where his family often seeks shelter during the hot summer months.

“They are cooler,” he said, sitting happily on the dirt floor surrounded by hay and bunches of garlic.

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Govt waives visa fees, not visas, for Chinese, Indian visitors

so which other countries are exempt ? full story please --------------------------------- The MFA...(Read More)


MP Sira warns Governor of Amlo complaint over Phuket condo project

Reading again the word 'fairness' make me puke. That is a word used here for arranging matte...(Read More)


MP Sira warns Governor of Amlo complaint over Phuket condo project

Seems like he has been cut out of the project and is abusing his position over sour grapes. Nothing ...(Read More)


After death threats, Bangkok MP fires up legal action over Phuket condo project

One wonders why a Bangkok MP is sticking his nose into Phuket issues. He clearly didn't get his...(Read More)


After death threats, Bangkok MP fires up legal action over Phuket condo project

Dear K. Cheewapap, Why are you allowing hundreds of rai in the Sirinart Nat'l Forest Reserve al...(Read More)


Three underpasses to close for electrical works

So, no reason given as to why the "metres[sic]" were not installed before the tunnels were...(Read More)


Smith's Ashes run-spree sparks Bradman comparisons

The comparison to Bradman itself is baloney. They never had batting helmets in the old days, bats we...(Read More)


Smith's Ashes run-spree sparks Bradman comparisons

The Captain of the Australian Team IS supposed to be perfect, in regards to not intentionally cheati...(Read More)


Smith's Ashes run-spree sparks Bradman comparisons

It wasn't a mistake by Smith. It was intentional cheating that he as Captain of the Australian t...(Read More)


Three underpasses to close for electrical works

Why not make this during night time ?...(Read More)