In Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan dried fruits have the potential to provide sustainable improvements. Farms are often poorly equipped, they lack of expertise and commercial skills to use the potential of dried fruit appropriately. Our help reaches farmers and ensures that the production and marketing of dried fruits is sustainably improved.
Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. In the bordering country Kyrgyzstan, more than 40% of the population live below the poverty line. Since 2001, we have been helping people in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on their way to a better life. At the beginning of our help the focus was on social issues, the support of children with disabilities and the care of the elderly. In 2008, Hilfswerk International set itself the goal of promoting ecologic development in Central Asia: This will benefit not only the affected people, but the whole region.
In Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan the traditional fruit and vegetable growing - which is mostly implemented by women – has the potential to lead the countries out of the crisis and to significantly improve the living standards of the population. The cultivation and marketing of dried fruits such as, in particular, apricots, nuts and honey makes up a significant part of the export capacities of the countries. Already more than half of all agricultural workers are employed in this area.
However, the great growth potential of the food industry and food export in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is largely untapped. The reasons are diverse: After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the newly-created states were cut off from their former markets, processing partners and trade routes. This led to a drop in the production of traditional agricultural export products in this region, especially in the production of dried fruit. The domestic markets in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are small and the purchasing power is low. These framework conditions also have a negative impact, so the processing of foodstuffs in the region is developing only slowly.
In addition, the farms - mostly run by women - are often poorly equipped and lacking financial resources to invest in modern machines. Often there are not enough expertise and commercial skills.
In order to counteract this and promote the Central Asian farmers we are working together with them to improve the production and marketing of dried fruits, nuts and honey. Hilfswerk International prepares them for access to Western markets. We develop strategies for product marketing and organize workshops and trainings for the mediation of international food standards. Our support also includes financial grants in order to purchase new machines, thus ensuring an improvement in production.
At the same time, Hilfswerk International helps to develop legislation to support the food industry and to improve business and investment conditions in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. An important factor is also the coordination and improvement of regional trade relations in these two countries.
We are currently helping Central Asian farmers build technical capacity to better prepare these export-oriented food processors for international markets. Together with the companies concerned, we develop and evaluate value chains and work out new market entry strategies or improve the already existing market processing strategies.
Food production and processing are amongst the major economic areas in Central Asia. To compete on international food markets, national food production and processing systems must observe and apply internationally recognized standards. Currently only few universities in Central Asia have competences and capacities to introduce and maintain standards compulsory for food export. Therefore, study programs in Central Asian universities will be modernized for the content to meet international standards.
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