A Brief Analysis of Declining Food Prices
By Amanullah Hanifi
Following the fall of the previous administration in Kabul, there was an erroneous assumption that all existing systems would be paralyzed. Alongside security and political instability, concerns arose about increased hunger and rising food prices. Initially, the situation took a turn for the worse, with a slight increase in the prices of essential food items, a devaluation of the Afghani currency against foreign currencies, and widespread fear among the people. However, through effective management, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan successfully dispelled these fears and concerns, restoring the situation to normalcy. This article delves into the measures undertaken by the Islamic Emirate to control food prices.
Importation of Food Items
Upon assuming power, the Islamic Emirate swiftly implemented measures to stabilize the country's economy and specifically address the prices of food items. In addition to reform and effective management strategies, various facilities were established to support traders. These measures targeted imported food items such as flour, wheat, rice, oil, sugar, and others, which are in high demand and constitute a significant portion of the country's imports. The Ministry of Finance of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan decided to impose a tax of 1000 Afghanis per ton of flour, significantly reduced from the previous tax of 3095 Afghanis. Similarly, a custom tax of 2012 Afghanis per ton of oil replaced the previous tax of 5885 Afghanis, reflecting a decrease of 65.8 percent. Moreover, the tax on one ton of sugar decreased from 3483 Afghanis to 1548 Afghanis, a reduction of 55.6 percent. Numerous other food items also experienced substantial tax reductions, encouraging traders to import a wide range of products and bridge gaps in the markets.
Expansion of Trade Relations with Neighboring Countries
Upon assuming power, the Islamic Emirate prioritized enhancing trade relations, particularly with the region and neighboring countries. To achieve this goal, officials from the Islamic Emirate engaged in dialogue with neighboring nations to address obstacles and facilitate trade development between Afghanistan and these countries. High-level meetings between Islamic Emirate officials and their Russian counterparts led to a series of agreements regarding food supplies to Afghanistan, resulting in a remarkable 30 percent increase in trade between Afghanistan and Russia. Furthermore, Islamic Emirate officials visited Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, emphasizing trade between Afghanistan and these countries, especially in terms of food supply. Substantial progress was made.
In addition to forging agreements during these visits and strengthening food supplies to Afghanistan, the Islamic Emirate extended service hours at major ports eliminated administrative barriers, initiated highway reconstruction projects, abolished toll fees for traders, signed petroleum-related contracts with neighboring countries, addressed transportation sector issues, ensured highway security, and prevented hoarding across all provinces. Municipalities prepared price lists to regulate food prices and prevent arbitrary practices, and their implementation was closely monitored, yielding exceptionally positive results.
Emphasis on Domestic Grain Cultivation
To achieve self-sufficiency in food production, particularly in flour and wheat, the Islamic Emirate banned the cultivation of narcotic drugs throughout the country and encouraged farmers to grow wheat, rice, and other crops on their lands. This initiative led to a significant increase in wheat and rice harvests compared to previous years, resulting in decreased prices in the flour and rice markets.
The Islamic Emirate distributed improved seeds to farmers to enhance cereal and grain yields, offered short and long-term land leases, and provided medicines to prevent natural disasters. These measures significantly increased agricultural production, thereby helping control market prices.
The Islamic Emirate provided full support to the private sector, aiming for economic growth and food self-sufficiency. Existing obstacles hindering private sector growth and performance were effectively eliminated. With the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate, Afghanistan has achieved self-sufficiency in nearly 60 different food and non-food items, playing a crucial role in price control.
Upon assuming power, the Islamic Emirate implemented substantial reductions in customs duties on imported food items, positively impacting trade development and price control. To ensure an affordable food supply to all citizens, the Islamic Emirate focused on enhancing trade with the region and neighboring countries, resulting in significant increases. Moreover, special attention was given to domestic grain cultivation as a means to control food prices. The successful production of large crops within Afghanistan has effectively stabilized market prices of food items