Economy of Afghanistan

According to cheeroutdoor, Afghanistan is an agricultural country, 90% of its population lives in rural areas. Afghanistan, even before the start of the civil war of 1979–2001, was among the most backward countries in the world in terms of economic potential, ranking 108th out of 120 developing countries in terms of national income per capita ($160 per year). The country’s industry accounted for 23% of the gross national product, agriculture – 58%. Construction accounted for 6%, transport and communications – 4%, trade – 8%. Production at state enterprises accounted for 36% of all output in the country, the rest of the products were produced at private factories and handicraft enterprises.

The civil war caused enormous damage to the Afghan economy. Most of the industrial enterprises were put out of action, roads were destroyed or mined, bridges were demolished, communications between individual regions of the country were interrupted. Enterprises stopped receiving raw materials, spare parts, electricity and fuel. Already by 1993, the volume of gross industrial output had declined compared with the beginning. 1990s twice. By 1999, out of 336 pre-war enterprises, only six continued to operate. Hundreds of thousands of peasants fled the country. All this led to the paralysis of the economy. Farmers increasingly began to turn to the cultivation of not traditional wheat, but opium poppy, which was sold to intermediaries. Drugs went abroad. To the beginning 21st century Afghanistan in the production of drugs came out on the 1st place in the world.

In the mining industry until the 1940s. the development of the main minerals was carried out in an artisanal way. In the 1960s Three coal deposits were developed – Karkar (Puli-Khumri), Darai-Suf in the north and Ishpushta near the Shikari Gorge. Then a new field was discovered east of Herat (“Sabzak”). In general, by the beginning of the civil war (1979), 200 thousand tons of coal were mined in the country. It was used to heat cities and was used in cement factories.

Gas production was carried out at three equipped in the 1960s. deposits – Khoja-Gugerdag, Yatimtag and Dzharkuduk (up to 3 million tons per year). Gas after cleaning was supplied through one gas pipeline in Mazar-i-Sharif to the plant of nitrogen fertilizers and thermal power plants, and through the second gas pipeline in the amount of 1.8-2 billion m3 per year was exported to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In 1988, new gas fields were discovered in the provinces of Faryab and Jawzjan, which made it possible to increase its production to 3 billion m3, or 46.3 million US dollars, which accounted for 20% of the value of all exports. In 1984, the cost of produced gas amounted to $314 million, i.e. half of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. The USSR bought Afghan gas at low prices, petrochemical products came to Afghanistan as payment for it.

Oil found at a number of small deposits in the north of the country was used from exploratory wells for domestic needs annually in the amount of 10-15 thousand tons.

Beryllium, chrome ore, barite, sulfur, talc, rock salt, lapis lazuli, building and decorative stone (marble, onyx, gypsum, limestone) were also mined. Ruby in Badakhshan and emeralds in Panjshir are known among precious stones.

By 1979, the capacity of all power plants in Afghanistan was 396 MW. Of the approximately 850 million kWh of electricity generated, 45% went to industrial enterprises, and about 35% to the domestic sector. Almost 73% of all electricity was generated by hydroelectric power plants, approx. 25% – at thermal power plants and a little more than 2% – at diesel stations. In total in Afghanistan there were St. 100 power plants. The first hydroelectric power station was built in 1919 in Jabal us-Seraj with a capacity of 1500 kW. Economic growth in the 1960s required a significant increase in electricity. In 1962, the Puli-Khumri hydroelectric power station with a capacity of 9,000 kW was built, the energy of which was used at the newly built elevator, the Karkar coal mine, and also in the cities of Baghlan and Kunduz. In the same 1960s. Sarobi HPP was built on the Kabul River with a capacity of 22 thousand kW, Naglu HPP (100 thousand kW), HPP “Makhipar” (66 thousand kW), HPP “Darunta” (11 thousand). In northern Afghanistan, the Khanabad HPP (1400 kW) and the Baghlan HPP (300 kW) were built. In the valleys of the Helmand and Argandab rivers, the Girishk (2800 kW) and Kajaki (33 thousand kW) hydroelectric power stations were built.

The largest thermal power plants were built in Mazar-i-Sharif at a nitrogen-fertilizer plant (48 thousand kW) and Kabul (100 thousand). By 1979, the total length of power lines in Afghanistan reached 1,000 km.

The largest enterprise in mechanical engineering and metalworking is the Jangalak car repair plant in Kabul, built with the help of Soviet specialists, in the 1960s. it carried out major repairs of 1.5 thousand trucks per year. In addition, machine tools, water pumps, road construction equipment, household items were also produced here. In addition to it, car repair shops, small enterprises for the production of various household metal products – boilers, kettles, agricultural implements, brass products, etc. functioned in large cities.

The largest enterprise in the chemical industry is the state nitrogen-fertilizer plant in Mazar-i-Sharif, which produced 120,000-130,000 tons of urea per year. In Kabul, Jalalabad, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar, approx. 30 small private enterprises for the production of paints, plastic products, foam rubber, medicines, pesticides, etc.

The building materials industry is represented by two cement plants – in Puli-Khumri and Jabal us-Seraj with a total capacity of 150 thousand tons of cement per year, the Kabul house-building plant, the Kabul asphalt plant, as well as a number of enterprises for the processing of marble and stone, the production of building reinforcement.

Numerous semi-handicraft brick factories functioned in the country, located around many cities. Construction, both industrial and civil, was carried out by several rather large construction firms by Afghan standards, including a mixed company with the participation of the German company Hochtif. In Kabul and other large cities, there are numerous furniture enterprises that manufacture office and home furniture.

The largest scale in Afghanistan is the light industry – enterprises for the processing and processing of cotton, wool and imported artificial fiber. This work involved approx. 40 enterprises. Their construction began in con. 1930s The largest of them was built by the largest textile company Spinzar (White Gold) in Kunduz. Relatively large cotton gins were also built in Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar and Herat.

In the same years, large textile factories were built in Jabal us-Seraj and Puli-Khumri. The last two produced up to 85 million m of European-level fabrics per year. These were private enterprises. Later, in the 1950s, near Kabul (in Bagrami), a state textile factory was built with a capacity of 12 million m of fabric per year, on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif, the Balkh factory (also for 12 million m).

Twenty-four small private factories for the processing of synthetic fiber fabrics operated in Kabul and Kandahar.

Woolen fabrics were produced at a state-owned enterprise in Kandahar (140,000 m per year) and near Kabul, in Puli-Charkhi (up to 1 million m of production), where carpet yarn was also produced.

Since the 1960s the knitwear industry began to develop. In 1978, 10 factories were already operating in Kabul, producing 70,000 pieces of outerwear and 1.4 million pairs of hosiery a year.

The shoe industry was represented by private enterprises, the Ahu and Okab factories, which produced 300,000 pairs of leather shoes a year, as well as 10 plastic shoe factories, which annually produced 2.5-5 million pairs of these cheap products.

In second place (in terms of the number of enterprises and volume of production) after the light industry was the food industry. In addition to oil mills, this included approx. 20 fruit cleaning, drying and packaging factories located in Kabul, Parwan, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif. Each of them annually produced from 2 to 5 thousand tons of raisins and other dried fruits, which were mainly exported to Pakistan. In Nangarhar, an olive processing and olive oil production plant was opened, which received the products of 4 state farms in the province. In large cities, there were 6 factories for the production of food ice for the population, small enterprises for the production of carbonated water, ice cream, and confectionery. The only sugar factory in the country for processing sugar beet worked in Baghlan. The volume of its production is 10-12 thousand tons.

Industrial processing of meat was carried out at slaughterhouses in Kabul and Herat, wheat – at elevators and mills in Kabul, Puli-Khumri, Mazar-i-Sharif. Factory-baked bread was produced at the country’s largest bakery in Kabul, although construction of a mill and a bakery also began in Herat before the civil war. in the capital in the 1980s. opened a pasta factory. In all settlements of Afghanistan, there are handicraft bakeries that produce traditional bread – lavash and charak (Uzbek round cakes).

In Afghanistan, large-scale handicraft production of the manufactory type is still preserved. The range of manufactured products is unusually wide – from knives to carpets. In total, there are 130 types of handicraft workshops in the country. The largest sector in this industry is carpet weaving, which employs up to 1 million people. Next come the manufacture of metal utensils, the dressing of hides and skins, tailoring, sheepskin coats, hats, the production of pottery, sweets, cane sugar, etc. In such workshops, as a rule, 5-6 people work. Until recently, the medieval guild order was preserved in this industry.

Afghanistan has approx. 17 million hectares suitable for cultivation (25% of the territory). Of these, 4.5 million were processed. Under crops, 3.8 million hectares were occupied, including 75% irrigated and 25% rainfed. 3.8% of irrigated land was allocated to orchards and vineyards, the rest – to field crops.

The main problem of agriculture is the lack of water. Irrigation facilities in Afghanistan are mostly primitive. Caries are still widely used – underground canals built in the Middle Ages.

The level of agricultural machinery is extremely low: sickles and wooden plows are still used in most small and medium-sized farms. The number of tractors does not exceed 3.5 thousand, combines – 600.

The largest sown areas are allocated for wheat (60%) – mainly in the provinces of Kabul, Parwan, Logar, Wardak and Kapisa. The annual wheat harvest is 2.5-3 million tons. Maize is in second place – 12% of the area, the yield is 800-900 thousand tons. Barley is grown in high-mountain regions (78%, 300-350 thousand tons). Rice grows in the regions of Khanabad, Kunduz, Laghman, along the valleys of the rivers Kabul, Logar, Wardak, Kunar (6%, 200-250 thousand tons). Millet is also sown in the country, mainly in the north, and legumes (peas, lentils, etc.) are grown.

Of the industrial crops, cotton is the most important, the crops of which are concentrated mainly in the regions of Puli-Khumri, Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Herat. The record cotton harvest was grown in 2002 – 200 thousand tons. Sugar beets are grown on a small area (about 1,000 hectares) in Baghlan, where the country’s only sugar factory operates. Flax, sesame, mustard, hemp, poppy are grown from oil plants.

Vegetables play an important role in the diet of the Afghans: eggplants, tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, radishes, beets, cabbage, and others. Melons and melons, watermelons, pumpkins, and cucumbers are widely developed. Of the fruits, the most common are peaches, apricots, pomegranates, quinces, figs, apples, pears, plums, cherries, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and grapes.

Opium poppy production has increased dramatically in recent years. If in con. 1970s poppy crops were estimated at 6 thousand hectares, then at the beginning. 1990s they have already reached 57 thousand hectares, and in 1999 – 120 thousand. Collection of opium in the beginning. 90s amounted to 2100 tons, and in 1997 it doubled. Afghanistan accounted for more than 30% of all world opium poppy cultivation, and by the end. decades, he firmly took 1st place in the world in the production of heroin: in 1999, the volume of raw opium produced reached 4650 tons, which accounted for 75% of the total world production. In 2002, the production of raw opium amounted to more than 3 thousand tons.

The second most important branch of agriculture is animal husbandry. As a result of a severe drought in 1999-2001, the number of all types of livestock decreased significantly. At present, the number of small cattle in Afghanistan is 20 million heads, cattle – 3-3.5 million, donkeys – 1.3 million, horses – less than 0.5 million.

To con. 1980s the road network was 21 thousand km, of which 2.8 thousand had concrete and asphalt pavement.

The largest highways in Afghanistan: the ring road Kabul – Kandahar – Herat – Andkhoy – Mazar-i-Sharif – Puli-Khumri – Kabul with branches to the main transit points: Kabul – Jalalabad – Turkham, Kandahar – Spinbuldak (to Pakistan); Herat – Islamkala (to Iran); Herat – Turgundi (to Turkmenistan); Puli_Khumri – Baghlan – Kunduz – Sherkhan (to Tajikistan). Modern highways: roads Kabul – Termez through the Salang and Kushka passes – Herat – Kandahar – Kabul.

By 1978, the fleet consisted of St. 60 thousand cars, including 30 thousand trucks and approx. 10 thousand buses. In the beginning. 1980s in Kabul, a trolleybus line was put into operation (16 km, 80 cars). The turnover of motor transport amounted to 3.3 billion tkm, and the volume of cargo transportation was 45.3 million tons. 90% of the country’s freight fleet belonged to private owners.

Currently, international passenger flights are made to Delhi, Tehran, Dubai, Moscow. The Afghan air fleet has 4 Boeing-747 aircraft. On domestic airlines, irregular flights are made from Kabul to Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz. There are 46 airfields in the country, including two international ones (Kabul, Kandahar) and 5 special sites for helicopters.

Before the civil war, Afghanistan had regular postal communications with most European and Asian countries, and there were 330 post offices. The length of internal postal and telegraph lines was 17 thousand km. There is also a radiotelephone center in Kabul, which communicates the capital with the centers of the provinces. The capital’s telephone exchange has 30,000 subscribers. All R. 1980s There were 300 broadcasting stations in the country. Television programs were watched by approximately 30% of the population. During the war years, most of the transport communications, including communication lines, were disabled. Now a national satellite communication system has been created, which is carried out mainly between Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-i-Sharif.

Before the civil war, Afghanistan covered its needs for consumer goods mainly through imports. The leading branches of the national economy of the country also mainly worked for export. Foreign trade provided up to 20% of the state budget, and it was practically the only source of foreign currency.

Before the war, Afghanistan had a significant foreign trade deficit due to the growing consumption of imported goods with a reduction in exports, which reached 25-35% of trade turnover (from 1 to 1.8 billion US dollars).

The main export commodities of Afghanistan are: natural gas, chemical fertilizers, cotton fiber, wool, hides, astrakhan fur, carpets and rugs, fruits, medicinal plants.

Major imports: sugar, tea, cigarettes, vegetable fats, medicines, soaps, vehicles, tires and tubes, textiles, petroleum products, chemicals, footwear, clothing, televisions, bicycles, etc.

Since 1993, the country’s foreign trade turnover has decreased by 34%, including exports by 32%, imports by 35%. Main foreign trade partners: Pakistan, India, Germany, Japan, UAE, Iran, Belgium, South Korea. During the war years, the main part of foreign trade was smuggled. During the first 10 years of the war, smuggling increased 4 times.

During the war years, the volume of domestic trade also decreased. In 1992 it was 27 billion afghani. Commodity prices skyrocketed. In 1984-91 this growth was 41% annually. In Kabul, they increased 10 times during this period. After the Taliban came to power, the situation on the market improved somewhat due to the disarmament of the warring factions and the cessation of robbery on the roads. In the 1990s the total volume of domestic trade was $18–20 billion. In the same years, inflation reached 300-400%.

Before the war, the state budget was formed mainly from tax revenues, customs duties and excises. However, tax collection difficulties led to the fact that taxes in agriculture provided only 15-18% of total tax revenues, while the industry itself provided up to 60% of GDP. The bulk of the budget was made up of indirect taxes and revenues from state-owned enterprises and exports.

Since the beginning of the war, the structure of the budget expenditures has changed: in the first 10 years of the war, defense spending increased 13 times and accounted for 61% of all budget expenditures. In 1992, current budget expenditures were estimated at 666 billion afghani, while revenues amounted to 89 billion.. As a result, commodity prices rose.

The banking system of Afghanistan consists of the state-owned “Dy Afghanistan Bank” and several commercial and specialized banks – the National Bank, the Pashtun Trade Bank, the Construction Bank, the Agricultural Bank. In 1983, the Industrial Development Bank was established.

Afghanistan’s external debt is estimated at $5.4 billion, of which 90% is owed to the former USSR and other former socialist countries.

Economy of Afghanistan