Afghanistan is now facing acute food shortages as the dry season, COVID-19 outbreak and economic sanctions concurrently. These factors force Afghanistan to depend on imports.
Despite being an agricultural country, Afghanistan has never been able to produce enough food for its people. This year’s lack of rainfall has worsened the country’s food security, forcing it to rely heavily on imports. In addition, the drought also has an impact on neighboring countries, so Afghanistan now has to pay more to get basic needs.
“Wheat and rice are imported from neighboring countries such as Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Pakistan. We need these commodities because Afghanistan is not self-sufficient,” said Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Agriculture Abdul Rahman Rashed
Farmers say this year’s dry season is more severe than in previous years, and the water wells they used to irrigate their farms have now all dried up.
“Five years ago the situation was good because the water was flowing down the mountain. Now the springs and wells have dried up,” said Qari Nasratullah, one of the farmers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also made things worse, leaving people unable to earn a living and disrupting the flow of goods into the country.
“Domestic products are no longer sufficient, and because the commodities are imported, the prices are high,” said Abdul Maroof, a shopkeeper.
A Kabul resident, Mohammad Masoor, said the border had been closed so no imports and exports were allowed.
“It is difficult for people to secure their basic needs because most people who work in government do not receive a salary. The Afghan currency has also lost its value,” Masoor said.
The Taliban say foreign troops are also contributing to the current food crisis.
“Another reason for this food crisis is the obstruction of international aid and the freezing of Afghan assets by other countries,” Abdul Rahman Rashed added.
Things caused by nature, like droughts, are beyond the control of any government. But access to aid and funds could allow governments to import more food, stabilize commodity prices and provide for people’s basic needs. [em/jm]