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Despite ongoing challenges Herat’s Pashdan Dam is close to completion

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(Last Updated On: March 26, 2021)

The Afghanistan National Water Affairs Regulation Authority (NWARA) said Friday at least 85 percent of construction work on the Pashdan Dam has so far been completed.

The dam, which made the news earlier this month after being attacked by Taliban, is one of the National Water Affairs Regulation Authority’s key projects for this solar year.

Work on the dam, on the Hari River in Karkh district of western Herat province, started 10 years ago. Once complete it will hold 40 million cubic meters of water and will generate 2MW of electricity and irrigate at least 13,000 hectares of land.

Plagued by problems, construction work at the site stopped for three years before being resumed last year but in November, reports indicated that Taliban insurgents had warned officials and workers at the dam to stop work on the project.

The group reportedly told dam officials the project had not been approved by the Taliban, so work should be stopped – which did not happen.

But earlier this month, Taliban attacked the dam, killing three security personnel, and wounding one other. Four security personnel are still missing.

NWARA officials meanwhile said that once the dam is complete, water will be fed to Herat city, where it will be used to irrigate the greenbelt around the city and supply potable water to residents.

The Afghan government is funding the $117 million (8.9 billion AFN) project.

This is one of a number of dams currently under construction in the country – to not only provide water to local communities but also to help increase power supply.

Earlier this week, another key dam was inaugurated by President Ashraf Ghani and his two deputies, Amrullah Saleh and Sarwar Danish.

The Kamal Khan dam in southern Nimroz province, was widely welcomed by residents who will also benefit from irrigation canals to help water crops.

The Kamal Khan dam will not only generate at least nine megawatts of electricity for the local community but will also irrigate over 180,000 hectares of land.

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Strawberries hit record yield of almost 300 tons in 1399

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(Last Updated On: April 18, 2021)

Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture show that in the 1399 solar year, 299 metric tons of strawberries were produced across the country.

The ministry said Herat, with 31 hectares of cultivated land, produced 155 metric tons of berries alone.

After Herat, Kunduz and Balkh provinces also recorded the second and third highest yield respectively.

According to the ministry strawberries are also grown in Faryab, Daikundi, Sar-e-Pul and Maidan Wardak provinces as well as a number of other provinces.

In total, last year, 62 hectares of land was used to cultivate this sweet, popular fruit.

The ministry has said that Afghanistan’s climate is conducive to the cultivation of strawberries, and that the cultivation of this fruit has been gradually promoted among the people for several years.

Strawberries are fruits rich in vitamins and nutrients and are sold on the local market for up to 200 AFN per kilogram.

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Safety Concept signed to ensure security of Afghan section of TAPI

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(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)

Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have signed a safety concept agreement to ensure the security of the Afghan section of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline, Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

According to Turkmenistan’s Trend news agency, the signing took place on April 15 during a meeting between representatives of the two countries.

The Safety Concept is an important step in the timely implementation of the TAPI gas pipeline project, including the development of a Safety Plan and Protocol, which are annexes to the Host Government Agreement, the foreign ministry’s report said.

The parties exchanged views on the ongoing work on the TAPI gas pipeline construction project and they discussed the implementation of measures to be carried out by the end of August this year.

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is a natural gas pipeline being developed with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank.

The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India. Construction on the project started in Turkmenistan in December 2015.

The length of the Turkmen section of the pipeline will be 205 kilometers in length and will pass through the Afghan cities of Herat and Kandahar (816 kilometers), through the cities of Quetta and Multan across Pakistani territory (819 kilometers), and reach the city of Fazilka in India.

The pipeline’s design capacity is planned to be 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year, and the project’s cost – about $8 billion, Trend reports.

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Illegal Iranian saffron in the country raises concerns

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(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

Saffron producers in Herat province have voiced concerns over the practise of importing saffron from Iran, which they say lowers the price of the spice on local markets.

Abdul Shakoor, head of a saffron producing company, said they have over the years exported hundreds of kilograms of saffron annually but that there is a growing trend among traders to import the spice illegally from Iran.

“It is a betrayal to the nation,” said Abdul Shakoor.

This comes after producers recorded a 30 percent increase in saffron exports last year.

Herat saffron exporters union said they have not been able to prove that saffron is being smuggled from Iran into Afghanistan but said controls in this regard were lacking.

“Some amount of saffron might be imported from Iran and will be exported from Afghanistan, but it is very rare. Afghanistan produces saffron by itself and there is no need for Iranian saffron,” said Mohamad Uthman Ansari, head of Herat saffron exporters union.

“We are not able to prove [reports] who imports the saffron… one thing that we notice is poor management,” said Bashir Ahmad Rashidi, head of Afghanistan saffron producers union.

The Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industry said bringing saffron into Afghanistan is illegal.

Spokesman for the ministry, Ahmad Fawad Ahmadi said this week that action would be taken against anyone who brings saffron into the country illegally adding that Afghanistan’s saffron is the best in the world.

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