“The Arghandab crop was not good because we did not receive it on time,” said Jan Mohammed, 34, another pomegranate exporter based in Kandahar city. “It has not been a good year.”
The monetary losses pull down an economy already flagging, like other countries’, with the spread of the coronavirus.
Those financial impacts were acutely felt by the people of Arghandab.
Lewanai Agha, 76, in a white scarf and turban, looked on from the edge of his orchard as Mr. Amiri boxed his pomegranates. Both Mr. Agha and Mr. Amiri have farmed and sold pomegranates their entire lives, like many here, and the fruit has been a way of life for generations.
Each box of pomegranates here is proudly marked with a green stencil denoting its origin: Arghandab.
When the fighting started, Mr. Agha, himself an insurgent commander during the war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, sent the women and children of his 32-strong family to Kandahar city while he and the other men stayed to protect his land and livestock.
“We were in the crossfire,” said Mr. Agha, his eyes narrowing as he recounted the fighting. Unable to take his fruit to market and compounded by a rainstorm, most of his pomegranates were destroyed. In 2019, Mr. Agha made roughly $9,300, he said. This year: about $620.
“The orchard was our only source of income,” Mr. Agha said. “We don’t know what else to do.”
His entire family relies on that revenue, Mr. Agha said. “This is the only time we’ve suffered like this since the Soviet invasion.” That was when Soviet troops bulldozed his orchard.