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Kabul working with UAE to digitize customs ports

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(Last Updated On: March 7, 2021)

Afghanistan has sought the UAE’s help to digitize its logistics infrastructure in order to facilitate regional trade in its push to become a bridge between South and Central Asia and the Gulf.

According to Emirates News Agency (WAM), Afghan Ambassador to the UAE Javid Ahmad said in an interview Afghanistan has a “planned large-scale programme on digitalisation with the UAE, which would involve digitalisation of our trade and logistics infrastructure.”

He said Afghanistan is in talks with a UAE firm to look into the schematics of the country’s dry ports and customs ports to see how they can mainstream the customs revenue collection, WAM reported.

“That’s very important for us, because an estimated 46 percent of our government revenues come from customs but the current system allows some loopholes for leakages, waste and misallocations,” Ahmad said.

“We believe that if we want Afghanistan to be the land bridge between South and Central Asia, regional connectivity is important, especially as part of our own plan for economic growth,” he said.

Afghanistan wants to extend its connectivity beyond South and Central Asia towards Arabian Gulf, particularly the UAE, through Port Qasim in Karachi, Pakistan and Chabahar Port in south-eastern Iran, he explained.

“We need to get logistics revamped and we are engaged with the UAE firm to see whether they could come and study to completely reform and restructure it, which would also include technology transfer,” Ahmad told WAM.

He said Afghanistan realises the future is digital and said government was also working with the UAE to create a unified communication infrastructure network, especially for key government institutions. “That includes important technological support, for example, on data integration systems. We are engaging with the UAE on this and it is a flagship project,” he said.

Ahmad also revealed that efforts are underway to establish a joint UAE-Afghanistan Business Council.

He said other priority sectors included the bilateral economic agenda, agriculture and aviation sectors.

The aviation sector is important “especially because the UAE’s three-company consortium is already managing four of our international airports. So now we’re looking to see how in the aviation sector UAE’s engagement could deepen to include, for example, building a passenger terminal, building a cargo terminal, as well as establishing a logistical and food processing zone,” the envoy explained.

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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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