KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Afghanistan needs jobs. In the medium and long terms, nothing else can help the country struggle back to its feet. The triple whammy of war, regime change and COVID-19 has left the country reeling.
"Afghanistan is in economic crisis. It is the moral responsibility of the business community to keep their employees on, and try to create more jobs," Qader Afzali, boss of a rice processing plant, told Xinhua recently. His company, Shuaib Faysal Rice, already employs over 200 people.
"We have been operating in Kunduz province for 19 years and have invested over 2 million U.S. dollars. We produce quality rice and are working as usual, with 140 tons of rice processed and packed daily.
"We have 6,000 registered farmers from Kunduz, Takhar, and Baghlan provinces," Afzali said. "I assure the Afghan people that we can compete with foreign rice."
Rice and wheat flour are two main food sources in Afghanistan. More than 22 million out of the 35 million population face acute food shortages. Even during the occupation, 72 percent of Afghans lived below the poverty line. Unemployment was 38 percent.
Mohammad Rafiq from Khanabad district is one of Shuaib Faysal's farmers. The company provides seed and then purchases their harvest for 1,000 afghanis above the market price. He is satisfied with the company's services, as he says it processes high-quality rice.
Afghanistan usually imports about 600,000 tons of rice each year. In 2019, a survey by the Ministry of Agriculture found rice cultivation in 18 out of the country's 34 provinces, 12,000 hectares more than the previous year.
With the growth in rice production, two thirds of rice needs were met domestically in 2019. ■