I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Friday, June 3, 2011

News of the world

I've barely been keeping up with local news recently and haven't spent much time cruising the online news reports. But here's an interesting story from Afghanistan, with yet another in a long series of unintended consequences: the government has banned ammonium nitrate fertilizer because it can be used to make explosives, perhaps not taking sufficiently into account the fact that it is also used as...fertilizer.
Nur Agha, from the village of Adazai, said, “When I was using ammonium nitrate, I was selling 420 kilograms of dried prunes a year. Last year, after the fertiliser was banned, I harvested just 70 kilograms of plums as the fruit dropped before it was ripe.”

The farmer said he now believed Afghanistan’s international allies “want us to lose our livelihoods and be forced to go to war”.

Eight out of ten Afghans are involved in agriculture or animal husbandry, but chronic underdevelopment and years of war mean the farming sector is always on the edge. Even when ammonium nitrate was allowed, growing crops was an arduous task based on manual labour, and farmers were lucky to make a subsistence living.

A local elder in Tagab who did not want to be named said the plum trees in his orchard had yellowing leaves and dropped their fruit prematurely. He compared the fertiliser ban to the outlawing of opium production – in both cases the authorities had failed to come up with a workable alternative.

“We’re fed up with orders from the government. One day, they tell us not to grow poppy as it’s harmful to their foreign friends. The next, they tell us not to use this [fertiliser], again because it harms their foreign friends,” he said. “Promises of assistance haven’t been delivered on…. I am left with an orchard that isn’t productive because there’s no ammonium nitrate since the government ban, and there is no alternative fertiliser.”

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