The first India wheat shipment was warmly welcomed by Afghans into Zaranj City with traditional song, dance and joy.
“It is an important opportunity for regional economic cooperation and today with arrival of this wheat [shipment] we are no longer reliant on one route,” Acting Minster of Agriculture, Nasir Ahmad Duran said.
In a significant sign of trilateral cooperation, the first consignment of wheat from India to Afghanistan was flagged off by Salahuddin Rabbani and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on October 29, following President Ashraf Ghani’s one-day visit to New Delhi on October 24.
“We all know that that a particular neighbor of yours to the east has often placed restriction on your transit rights,” Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mr. Manpreet Vohra said.”There is no reason why in 2017 Afghanistan should suffer from this fundamental denial of a fundamental right to a landlocked country which is easy access.”
The envoy added that it was one of the primary reasons for India to join hands with Afghanistan and Iran to find an “alternate assured connectivity” without any political issues “coming in all the time” for Afghanistan.
Describing the opening of Chabahar port significant for development of economic relations between the regional countries, the Iran Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mohammad Reza Bahrami stressed that his country has invested about $1 billion on capacity of the port.
“We believe our region will not be developed unless all countries in the region join hands of friendship and cooperation with each other,” he said.
The shipment through Chabahar comes after the trilateral agreement to develop the port as a transport and transit corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan.
Afghanistan to transit trade via Pakistan’s Gwadar port
The Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) enables Afghanistan to transit trade through Pakistan’s Gwadar port under the OPTA agreement.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce says that Afghanistan is trying to improve its economic relations with all neighboring countries and the region, pointing at the Pakistani port of Gwadar as the closest and cheapest transit route for Afghanistan’s trade.
In the meantime, the Pakistani Prime Minister’s senior advisor of economy, Abdul Razzaq Daud, has said that trade with Afghanistan is set to begin through the Gwadar port, starting with 16,000 tons of fertilizer to be shipped to Afghanistan.
In addition, the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment considers the Gwadar port as less expensive than any others; however, it criticizes that the neighboring countries are not honest enough in their economic relations with Afghanistan.
On the other hand, experts point out that if Pakistan complies with international economic and transit laws, Afghan traders will be able to import and export goods via Gwadar port at lower costs.
This comes as economic relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been often strained due to political tensions, and the country has severally closed its ports to Afghan traders.
Central bank to run campaign promote Afghani in western provinces
The government has set to launch a campaign over the use of Afghani currency instead of Iranian Rials in domestic transactions in western parts of the country.
Sharifullah Shagewal, a spokesman for the central bank of Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Bank said that the organization has set to boost the use of Afghani currency in local markets.
Shagewal added that the replacing Iranian Rials with Afghani currency could gain Afghani value against foreign currencies.
According to reports, many provinces sharing borders with Iran use Rials for transactions.
It comes as the organization launched a campaign in the past one year just to tell people not to use foreign currencies in Nangarhar, Laghman, Kunar, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Helmand, and Kandahar province, where public used to use Pakistani rupees in daily transactions.
Now, the De Afghanistan Back added that so far, it succeeded to prevent billions of Pakistani rupees from money circulation in the country.
Meanwhile, the central bank of Afghanistan urges the public to join the campaign by using Afghani currency instead of foreign currencies in their daily businesses.
Locusts attack along India-Pakistan border threatening food security
There has been an increased risk along both sides of the India-Pakistan border, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said Friday.
FAO, in its Friday release, warned, “Despite control operations, recent heavy rains have created ideal conditions for the pest’s reproduction in several countries. Young juveniles will become voracious adults in June just as farmers begin to harvest, compounding an already bleak food security situation.”
Reports indicate that India has reached out to Pakistan to counter a locust invasion which threatens to destroy crops and undermine food security in the south and southwest Asia already threatened by the COVID19 pandemic.
According to Indian news outlets, swarms of desert locusts swept Jaipur on Monday as the insect onslaught spread wider to parts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh; while Gujarat and Punjab have warned their farmers of locust attacks.
This is the second round of locust attack in India, the first one having occurred during December-February.
Locust attacks in 12 countries, including Pakistan, Iran, and ten nations in Africa, have damaged crops over millions of hectares.
The World Bank has set up a $500 million program to help countries in Africa and the Middle East combat the impact of locusts.
It is noteworthy that the Locusts can destroy standing crops and devastate livelihoods of people – The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world and a single swarm covering 1 square kilometer can contain up to 80 million locusts.
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