Mumbai, Sep 15 (IANS) Afghanistan on Saturday invited Indian businesses to invest in its agriculture sector, promising to roll out great opportunities in the fields of manufacturing, processing, packaging and marketing of farm products.
Afghanistan's Deputy Minister for Agriculture Naseer Ahmed Durrani said that the country's farm production and exports were growing and urged Indian businesses to explore investment opportunities available there.
He was speaking during the conclusion of a four-day long exhibition and conference "Passage to Prosperity: India-Afghanistan International Trade & Investment Show", organised by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the governments of India and Afghanistan, here.
Durrani informed that agriculture, farming and livestock forms the backbone of Afghanistan's economy contributing 25 per cent to its GDP and involving around 80 per cent of the population.
"Rebuilding trade relationships and expanding export markets for Afghan products are critical for Afghanistan's job creation, capital flows and overall stability, and we are looking for potential investors in these areas," said Durrani.
He said that Afghanistan's agriculture exports were growing and expected to increase by nearly one-third or 30 per cent this year, to touch $260 million, up from $200 million last year.
"We export dry fruits, fresh fruits and nuts to India, which is now increasing with the opening of the air corridors between Kabul-New Delhi, Kabul-Mumbai. Traditionally, the top destinations for Afghanistan exports are Pakistan and India, followed by China, Iran and Turkey," added Durrani.
The Minister said Afghan products like apples, grapes, apricots, pomegranates and raisins were very popular in India and continue to be a staple of Indian hospitality and diet.
With increased capacity of Afghan producers and exporters to deliver the freshest of produce to the markets, these quality products are once again finding their way onto supermarket shelves, he pointed out.
The current bilateral trade between India-Afghanistan is $900 million and expected to touch $2 billion by 2020, he said.
At the four-day show in Mumbai, more than 50 top agriculture exporters and another 150 businessmen from Afghanistan participated to showcase their finest high-value agro-products and explore business ventures with 1,200 Indian and global 100 counterparts.
At the first event held in New Delhi last year, Indian and Afghan businessmen signed contracts totaling over $27 million for raw and processed agriculture products, besides agreements worth $214 million.