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.