As the host, Mr. Afghan started the program with the recitation of some verses from the Holy Quran by Qari Ahmad Jan. Following that, the national anthem of Afghanistan was played, and the audience paid tribute to it.
Welcoming the ADF delegation, entrepreneurs and other guests of the Shura, the director of Economy, Mr. Gol Mohammad Arian opened the Shura by speaking about the importance of the ADF loans in the formation of small/medium enterprises (SMEs) and as a result, for the national economy. He encouraged people to take loans from ADF and expressed hope for the perseverance and efforts of our compatriots to increase the number of small and medium enterprises.
Following this, Haji Nasrullah Zuhair, the Director of Kandahar Chamber of Commerce, first thanked all the guests for coming to the Shura. After that, he emphasized the Islamic nature of the loans provided by ADF and said that our compatriots should make the best use of these types of loans. He added that the development of factories and other enterprises directly impacts employments rates by putting hundreds of people to job. He also shared the problems of traders with the ADF, saying that 70-80 percent of businesses in Kandahar have Urfi Title Deed and do not possess Sharia Title Deeds.
With this in mind, he called on the ADF’s leadership to make more changes to its policies to allow more people to take advantage of the loans. Finally, he told the businessmen and entrepreneurs to discuss their problems with ADF so that the relevant officials in this office can find the necessary solution for it.
Afterwards, Dr. Eamal Arman, the CEO of Agricultural Development Fund, went on stage and started his speech by thanking the Director of Economy, the Chairman of the Chambers of Commerce and other businessmen and entrepreneurs for their attendance and provided the audience with information about ADF. Dr. Arman noted that agriculture is one of the most important sectors of Afghanistan’s economy, because despite the survey figures showing a $2.2 billion worth of undeveloped mines in Afghanistan, extracting them requires a lot of work. Therefore, the only sector through which we can strengthen our economy is agriculture. Also, mines are a limited resource, but agriculture can be a sustainable economic backbone, because if all of Afghanistan’s arable land is used properly, surveys show that we can feed up to 63 million people through agriculture. At the moment, we do not even have the capacity to feed 32 million people.
Dr. Arman also spoke about his trip to Dubai and said that in a meeting with Afghan businessmen, he encouraged them to invest in Afghanistan. However, he found out that despite the lack of facilities provided by the Afghan government for businesses to thrive, the main concern of Afghan businessmen for investing in Afghanistan is the lack of security in the country.
He then spoke about the ADF’s portfolio, saying that since the inception, the Agricultural Development Fund has distributed over nine billion Afghanis in loans and more than 53,000 farmers have benefited directly from them. He added that more than 600 million Afghanis in loans have been distributed in Kandahar. “Kandahar is one of the provinces where there are a lot of businesspeople and they can use our completely Islamic loans such as Murabaha and Wakala to keep their businesses afloat.” Dr. Arman said.
Urfi Title Deed and do not possess Sharia Title Deeds.
The ADF CEO also asked all entrepreneurs to repay their loans on time so that ADF could recirculate the money in this cycle and benefit other farmers as well. Regarding the type of deeds, Dr. Arman stated that ADF accepts two types of deeds, one of which is a Urfi Title Deed and the other is a Sharia Title Deeds. If the loan application is up to 6.8 million Afghanis, the customer can provide an Urfi Title Deed, but if the loan amount exceeds it, the fund is required to obtain a Sharia Deed according to its policy.
Dr. Arman said that if we can mechanize our agriculture properly, we would achieve 300 to 400 percent growth in the sector. “Our clients in Bamyan have added 27% to their potato production since our cooperation.” Dr. Arman said; “About Food Security, in 2018, approximately 54.5% of the population lived below the poverty line, and it is increasing every day. Unemployment is about 70% and rising. The main purpose of ADF is to provide loans to agribusinesses to create jobs, as agriculture is currently the only hope for Afghans. 25% of Afghanistan’s GDP is through agriculture, and we have the potential to mechanize that to increase that figure. The same is true with livestock, and if we look at improved breeds, we can see the difference. Indoor cows give about 5-10 kg of milk per day, but the improved breeds can give up to 40 kg of milk. This can happen if we have access to loans to initiate businesses or extend them.” He added. Dr. Arman finally asked all his business partners to provide the people with the necessary information about the loan and ADF products.
Hamidullah Afghan, also spoke and welcomed all the guests. He asked for more cooperation from business partners, saying that there are agencies that lend but their regulations are strict. He pointed out that in an enterprise, the need for a loan is usually felt at three points: First, when we try to start a business but when we do not have enough funds. The second is when some businesses are losing money. This is a natural problem and can happen, but these businesses need a loan to get back on their feet. Third, we need loans to expand our business. Unfortunately, the rules of Da Afghanistan Bank are not applicable in our society. Hence, we ask ADF to revise their policies to the extent possible to make them more applicable to our business society. Together we can make it easier for businesses to receive loans. He also urged businesses to respect the processes and repay their loans on time and strengthen their relationship with ADF. He also spoke briefly about the agricultural complex being built in Kandahar and asked the ADF to cooperate with them in its construction.
Following Mr. Afghan’s remarks, Ahmad Zia Popal gave a full presentation on the ADF’s procedures and products. He explained about different Islamic loan products mainly Wakala and Murabeha and the eligibility criteria for the ADF loans. Minimum and maximum loan levels were also part of the presentation (Min being 1.7m for females and 3.4m for males – Max being 10% of ADF Funds). Afterwards, Mr. Hashmatullah Taand also gave a presentation on the two issues of Post-Harvest Management and Food Safety. The first subject included matters regarding cleaning, sorting, grading, packaging, waxing, storage, marketing and transportation, whereas the second part was about international standards for food safety, sources of food contamination and the ways of its prevention.
MAIL Director, Mr. Seyed Hafizullah Saeedi, also paid his respects to Nusratullah Zuhair, Dr. Eamal Arman and agricultural traders, and said that despite the risks, many businessmen and entrepreneurs have invested their capital in the agricultural sector. He added that the people of Kandahar have a business mindset and are creative and can lead. He also noted that there was an agricultural bank in the past and that their loans were effective for cooperatives and farmers. “In recent years, the Ministry of Agriculture also sought to establish a system similar to the Agricultural Bank, and it led to the establishment of the Agricultural Development Fund”. He said. Mr. Saeedi thanked Dr. Arman and his team for their hard work that made ADF such an assistant to the agriculture sector. The Shura was continued with a Q/A session afterwards, where the audience asked questions to be answered by Mr. Zabiullah Hayat and Dr. Eamal Arman. Following that, the party ended with lunch. Once the Shura was dismissed, Dr. Arman and his team visited several clients, including Tavakol Sadat Cold Store, Hekmat Food Factory, and Lava Chips, to evaluate their performance, results, conditions, and returns.