Afghanistan's Taliban takeover sends dry fruit prices soaring in India
Ahead of India's festival season, the prices of dry fruits are shooting up by up to 70%. The reason behind the sudden uptick in dry fruit rates is the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, a major dry fruit exporter. Reportedly, although traders in Afghanistan are ready with their consignments, the trade has been halted due to the disruption of routes, paper clearances, and banking collapse.
Which dry fruits in India are imported from Afghanistan?
Notably, Afghanistan is among the biggest suppliers of apricot and fig for India and is also the source of mamra or gurbandi almonds, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, small pistachio nuts, along with spices such as shahi jeera and hing. Of the Rs. 3,700 crore worth items imported from Afghanistan to India in 2020-21, fruits and nuts accounted for Rs. 2,300 crore, government data showed.
Why has the trade been disrupted?
Traders told ThePrint that the hold-up in dry fruit trade is due to trade route disruption, paper clearances, and banking collapse. Reportedly, the Taliban is not accepting consignment clearance papers granted by the now-ousted Afghanistan government. The Taliban has also stopped the movement of cargo to Pakistan, the traders reportedly said. Incidentally, the COVID-19 lockdown had already disrupted trade over the past two years.
'Prices of all Afghan dry fruits increase by Rs. 300-500/kg'
One wholesale dealer of dry fruits told ThePrint that "the prices of all the Afghan dry fruit items have increased at least by Rs. 300-500/kg." "While almonds are being sold at around Rs. 1,100-1,500/kg against Rs. 700-800 earlier, anjeer prices have increased to Rs. 1,300-1,700/kg from Rs. 900-950," he said. The prices of goods that are not imported from Afghanistan have also risen.
Situation expected to stabilize in 15-20 days: Official
A senior official from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade told ThePrint that they are "expecting the situation to stabilize in the next 15-20 days as the terms of trade will be getting more clarity with Afghanistan." The price rise is due to volatile speculation in business and imports from other countries will be able to fill the gap in the meantime, they said.
India the second-biggest export destination for Afghanistan
Agricultural products comprise 65.8% of Afghanistan's exports, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Profiles 2020. Further, India made up a little over 40% of Afghanistan's exports in 2018, making it the second-biggest export destination. Usually, imports from Afghanistan reach India through Iran's Chabahar port via the sea route. Via land, the consignments pass through Attari border's integrated check post (ICP).
What is happening in Afghanistan?
The Taliban took control of the Afghanistan government after the US withdrew its troops from the country with the aim to end America's two-decade-long 'War on Terror'. The Taliban advanced quickly, gaining control of several key cities and seizing the capital of Kabul by August 15. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country the same day and civilians have also been rushing to scram.