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Contracts signed to improve services at Afghan airports

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(Last Updated On: October 30, 2020)

Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority and Group 42 of the United Arab Emirates signed three contracts in the areas of security services, operation management, ground handling, and aviation systems and technology on Thursday.

The contract was signed by Mohammad Qasim Wafayezada, Head of Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority, and Mansoor Al-Mansoori, Chief Operating Officer of Group 42 of the UAE in the presence of President Ashraf Ghani, the national security advisor Hamdullah Mohib, and Acting Minister of Finance Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal at the Presidential Palace on Thursday afternoon.

The Presidential Palace said in a statement that Ataullah Nasib, Head of Investment Facilitation Unit of Office of the President said UAE’s Group 42 develop and deploy high-impact industry solutions in the sectors of aviation, energy, healthcare, oil and gas, and extractive industry, adding that the company showed willingness and commitment to enter into cooperation with Afghanistan in areas related to civil aviation, mainly for Afghanistan’s four international airports.

Terming the contracts ‘truly strategic, President Ashraf Ghani said, “We celebrated the birth of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) this morning and signed strategic cooperation agreement with the UAE company in the afternoon.”

He added that historical and political relations between Afghanistan and UAE can be named as ‘comprehensive economic partnership’.

President Ghani said, unfortunately, the great potentials at Afghanistan international airports haven’t been utilized. He stressed that the government has entered into cooperation with G42 as the company has great experiences in the fields of security services, ground handling, and aviation systems and technology.

“I am confident that officials, service personnel of airports, clients, and our people will feel the tangible changes upon implementation of these contracts,” Ghani added.

“Our airports are our vital infrastructures so we need to ensure standard service delivery which is essential in terms of operation management and ground handling,” added the president while underlining that export of Afghan products through air corridor should meet those standards. 

President Ghani highlighted that Hamid Karzai International Airport has great potentials to turn into a cargo platform.

He added that international airports of Kandahar and Herat can serve as connection points with UAE and Mawlana Jalaluddin Balkhi airport can link Afghanistan to Central Asia, which altogether create a suitable network of airports.

Meanwhile, Mansoor Al-Mansoori stated that the contracts would create more opportunities for cooperation between Afghan and UAE institutions.

He noted that Afghanistan and UAE enjoy historical and friendly ties that have been further consolidated within recent years.

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Afghanistan’s GDP to expand by 3% in 2021: ADB

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(Last Updated On: April 28, 2021)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasts that Afghanistan’s gross domestic product GDP growth will increase by 3% in 2021 and 4% in 2022 after the normalization of business activity and market sentiment.

In its Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2021 released on Wednesday, the ADB stated that Afghanistan’s economic growth is expected to recover this year and accelerate next year after a sharp decline in 2020 from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and continued violence and instability.

“Afghanistan’s economy experienced unprecedented disruption in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic, political instability and continued violence, which cut remittances, trade, and revenue,” said ADB Country Director for Afghanistan Narendra Singru. 

“With a successful COVID-19 vaccine rollout and post-pandemic recovery, the country should be on track to achieve economic growth this year and in 2022 as business activity and market sentiment normalize,” Singru said.

According to the report, inflation more than doubled from 2.3% in 2019 to 5.6% in 2020 driven by higher food prices. Food price inflation in 2020 was estimated at 10% with the highest spike recorded in April when border closure and panic buying propelled it to 16.6%. Inflation is projected to moderate to 5.0% in 2021 and 4.0% in 2022 as food supplies improve.

However, risks remain, including implementing vaccinations in remote and insecure areas, conflict, criminality, corruption, political instability, and broader social fragility. If unaddressed, these could weigh heavily on the economy and impede recovery.

“Supporting the recovery of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) hard hit by the pandemic is pivotal to safeguarding workers’ incomes and livelihoods, according to the report. Before the pandemic, MSMEs were estimated to provide nearly 1.6 million service and industry jobs. The government approved a 2-year support package worth $295 million in October 2020 to improve business conditions and implemented countercyclical measures that include support for MSMEs,” the report read.

The ADB suggests that Afghanistan should facilitate MSME access to markets by developing infrastructure, improving security, combating corruption, simplifying regulation, strengthening property rights and contract enforcement, and promoting innovation and better labor skills in order to improve the business environment.

“Increasing access to credit and further expanding the formal bank sector is also crucial,” the organization said.

“ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region,” the report concluded.

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Govt to build 38 new saffron processing centers around the country

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(Last Updated On: April 27, 2021)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) said it will build 38 new saffron processing centers in seven provinces in the country this solar year, 1400.

The ministry says the centers will be built in Herat, Ghazni, Sar-e-Pul, Kunduz, Balkh, Faryab and Daikundi provinces.

The ministry added that the construction of these centers will help increase the yield, quality and value of saffron.

Saffron is one of the most important export products of Afghanistan.

Afghan saffron has sold for up to $1,000 per kilogram in world markets due to its high quality.

However, according to a number of growers, the price of saffron globally has dropped in the past year.

A few years ago, Afghanistan government and donors started promoting saffron as a legal alternative to the cultivation of opium poppy, as a commodity that fits with a market-led approach to Afghanistan’s agricultural sector and as a crop that can enhance women’s participation in economic activities and their productive role outside the household.

According to the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) the planting of saffron provides the basis for growth and employment creation envisaged in the country.

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Afghanistan’s walnut yield tops 14,877 metric tons

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(Last Updated On: April 26, 2021)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), reports that in the 1399 solar year, 14,877 metric tons of walnuts were harvested throughout the country.

According to MAIL data, 5,206 hectares of land was used to cultivate walnut trees in 28 provinces.

Badakhshan was reported as having the highest yield with a harvest of 4,464 metric tons.
Kapisa produced 2,520 metric tons; Parwan ended the year with 1,575 metric tons; and Baghlan with 803 metric tons.

MAIL attributed the solid harvest to good weather, timely rains and the support of the Ministry of Agriculture for growers.

Kabul, Nuristan, Takhar, Panjshir, Kunar, Paktia, Maidan Wardak and Daikundi also have suitable conditions for the production and growth of walnuts, MAIL stated.

Walnuts are grown prolifically across Afghanistan especially as the mountainous and sandy areas provide perfect growing conditions. Walnuts are also popular among Afghans.

So far, several types of walnuts have been identified in the country, the most common of which is the paper-shell type walnuts.

Walnut tree wood is also used in industry, and even the flowers and bark of the kernels in the form of iodine are used in Greek medicine. The fruit or kernel is rich in vitamins A and B and is eaten fresh and dried.

Walnuts contain 76% oil, 22% protein and some carbohydrates, as well as a small amount of vitamins A-B-E in raw fruits and vitamin C, which increases its value.

Dry nuts are of paramount economic importance to Afghanistan and because dried walnuts have a high sales market value, this dried fruit plays a major role in the country’s economy.

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