Taliban asks Iran to facilitate Afghan dry fruits export to India via Chabahar

New Delhi, Oct 13: The Taliban has been realising that governance is a tough nut to crack. To restart the export of fresh and dry fruits, a major revenue earner, they have approached Iran for help.

Iran's Tasnim News is reporting that Tehran has agreed to evaluate Taliban's proposals for the transportation of Afghanistan's trade cargoes and export of fresh and dried fruits to India via the Chabahar route.

The Taliban submitted the detailed plan last week when representatives of both countries signed a comprehensive trade agreement.

Iran and the Taliban have agreed to maintain round-the-clock operation at the Islam Qala-Dogarun border crossing and take practical measures to improve and develop the land routes at the border crossing.

In principle, Iran has agreed to allow Afghan traders to export fresh and dried fruits to India via Dogarun-Chabahar route which was closed after Taliban's capture of Afghanistan.

This year, exporters have to exclusively rely on land routes to ship their products as there are no air cargo flights available yet.

Most of the Afghan traders have been using this route to Afghanistan through the 7200-km long International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which passes through neighbouring Iran.

Cargoes are then shipped from Chabahar port, Iran to western ports such as Mumbai. But that route was closed in July by Iran citing security concerns. After the Taliban came to power, they banned the export and imports to India. But now, under enormous economic pressure, the new regime has decided to rethink its stance. India imports around 85 per cent of its dry fruits from the war-torn country.

Afghanistan has witnessed a bumper dry fruit harvest this year.

As a result, Afghan exporters are in constant touch with Indian buyers despite the current situation in their country.

Generally, exports of dry fruits start in September, just before the beginning of the festival seasons of Durga Puja and Diwali.

Afghan exports to India include dried raisins, walnuts, almonds, figs, pine nuts, pistachios, dried apricot and fresh fruits such as apricot, cherry, watermelon, and a few medicinal herbs.

Earlier, the Afghan fresh fruits traders were using the India and Afghanistan air cargo corridor, which was stopped due to the political uncertainty in the country.

Afghan traders were also using the country's Torkham and Chaman borders routes to Wagah border via Pakistan, but since July, these routes have become not feasible specially for perishable fresh fruits cargo.

The opening of these borders depends on the moods of Pakistani authorities, and they have also raised the bribe money for allowing the trucks to cross the border, says Bias Ibrahim Despite the bumper fruit crops, hundreds of tons of fresh fruits have remained stranded at the border crossing points with Pakistan for eventual exports for weeks and finally got rotten.

As the traders of both countries are also worried about the collapse of the banking system in Afghanistan, which may hamper access to the Indian market.

And on top of that, the Adani group has banned import and export of containerised cargo coming to its Mundra Port coming from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At present most of the Afghan cargo of dry fruits comes to Nhava Sheva port (JNPT) so there won't be much impact, says Indian Fruit Traders Association and hopes that the Indian government will intervene.

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Source: IANS