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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wholesale Potato and Onion Market of Mazari Sharif

An onion wholesaler says, "we import onions from Iran. We buy it fresh, not from storage and sell it directly here. (However the onions he had were obviously storage onions) We are not keeping it here because of the hot weather. And we get it from traders and merchants. Also we import potatoes from Iran.
Mazari Sharif wholesale potato and onion market after
the bustle of trading has subsided
The head of potatoes and onion wholesale market says “now we import the potatoes and onion from Pakistan. Currently there is no production in districts of Balkh Province. And we import all from Pakistan. Then from September until November we have our own potato production from Baghlan and Bamian provinces. But now we import our vegetables like coriander, cucumber, spinach, leek and lettuce from the district of Balkh province and only we import cauliflower and cabbages mostly from Pakistan and less from Nangarhar.
Scales for weighing potatoes and onions at the
Mazar wholesale potato and onion market

“Our big problem is storage. We can not keep the potatoes and onions for a long time. If we have storage, the onions from Mazar-E-Sharif never spoil. We can keep it unile April. we don’t have a suitable place for keeping onions. We are packing them in bags and keep them in our shops. And our potatoes are from Baghlan and Bamian because we don’t have storage. When the potatoes from Pakistan arrive, the price of our potatoes drop. For example seven Kg of Bamian and Baghlans’ potato is 100 Afs. when potato from Pakistan arrive it decreases to 60Afs. (50 afs or afghanis is roughly equivalent to $1USD right now)

Retail shop owners come to the wholesale markets and
contract with the owners of these motorcycle converted
vehicles to transport their purchases to their retail shop
Another potato and onion wholesaler says” we can keep our potato in Bamian six until eight months but when it arrives in Mazar because of the lack of storage we can not keep it for a long time. Also we can keep the onions for only three months and we must sell it soon. These are at times when prices are low and we face business problems.

Interviewing wholesalers with our flip video camera and
later transferring the information to paper
or electronic medium
When we ask the head of potato and onion wholesalers about storage in Mazar he answers “there is no storage in Mazar only in Kabul and in Maidan Shahr. We lose 50% of our potatoes and onions because we don’t have storage. If we have storages facilities we can keep our onion for nine months from September until May. If we have the ability to make storage we will build storage for vegetable and fruit. But we have never seen any storage facility we have only heard of these facilities. But if an engineer comes and train us then we know how to build our own storage. Cold storage needs a lot of power and we have good power in Mazar and the power cost 15 Afs per KW for businesses."

Another potato and onion wholesaler says” if there is a possibility we go Pakistan or Kabul to see the storage then we can understand how to build ours”.

Next week the retail outlets.......


  1. Western Nebraska potato producers used to (50+ years ago) store the harvest in large underground cellars, most large enough to accommodate a tractor and cart. They were little more than dugouts with a vented, soil covered roof and wooden bins, sufficient to guard against high plains weather extremes. While not a foolproof storage system (occasional failures could be smelled from a mile away) they were in universal use because of the ease of construction and minimal cost for native materials.

  2. Interesting article. Thanks for giving us a view of life in Afganistan.