Afghanistan, a landlocked country with high rate of imports in the territory, according to the Central Statistics Organization (CSO), Afghanistan imported nearly 500,000 metric tons of edible vegetable oil worth 490.9 million US dollars during 2014. With growing demand for vegetable oil in today’s era, the Balkh province has gotten favorable conditions for cottonseed production. Cottonseed is a suitable source for edible oil. Although, hundreds of tons of cottonseed has been produced inside the province yearly, but lack of oil extraction facilities and industries has made this disable.
To remedy the situation, Comprehensive Agriculture and Rural Development Facility (CARD-F), funded by the British and Danish government, has taken an initiative to support and enhance two private companies in terms of cottonseed oil extraction and refining in Balkh province. Accumulatively, these companies will be able to produce 7,560 metric tons of vegetable oil per annum. Since late 2012, CARD-F has introduced more than 1,200 local farmers to cotton cultivation as an alternative livelihood in Balkh province.
Additionally, this initiative comes with an extra benefit of producing cottonseed cake and soap.
The cottonseed cake is used as a favorable feed for animals, resulting high production of milk.
This initiative aims to increase employment, income and business opportunities in rural Afghanistan and strengthen the local economy in order to enable the farmers to produce in commercial scale. As part of its technical assistance in strengthening Cotton Value Chain, CARD-F is providing the farmers with certified seeds, tools, fertilizer, trainings on land preparation, sowing, irrigation, weeding, integrated pest and disease management, fertilizer application, and best practices in harvest and post-harvest management.
CARD-F supports Ahmadzai Oil Extraction Plant in purchasing extraction machinery and plans to elevate its processing capacity to 150 metric tons in 24 hours, extracting 20 metric tons of unrefined cottonseed oil. Similarly, for refining means, CARD-F supports Aziz Farid’s Oil Refining Plant with purchasing refining machines, in order to increase its refining capacity to 30 metric tons refined cottonseed oil in 24 hours. This initiative aims to reduce Afghanistan’s dependency on imported oil and ensure a supply of high-quality domestically produced vegetable oil. CARD-F intends further enhancing the value chain of cotton through long term investments and growth of new value addition activities e.g. soap making industry, spinning and textile industry and etc.