The EastFruit team sums up the results of 2020 for Tajikistan regarding the prospects for developing the fruit and vegetable business.

The year was reportedly very unusual: unprecedented price fluctuations, unpredictable logistics, closed borders even for goods, and unusual weather conditions created many problems for farmers and other market participants.  Moreover, all these factors caused losses, which mean there was less money for further development.

An article Why Does a Tajik Farmer Sleep Only in Winter and Even Then Not Everyone? tells about a Tajik farmer’s typical yet incredible work schedule throughout the year’s seasons.

Bakhtiyor Abduvohidov, a consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), analyses the results of 2020: “For the fruit and vegetable business in Tajikistan, I would describe the past year as difficult, full of challenges, and lack of guidelines.  Businesses operating as before lost more than they found because competition intensified.  However, those who brought something new to business and technology – new types of products, cultivation in the closed ground, new varieties, new sales markets – continue working. Investors who had never worked in this sector before started to invest in agribusiness.  It has both pros and cons since there are no specialists in new technologies, but people learn.  I think there will be more new projects in 2021 that we will hear about.”

Tajikistan has excellent climatic conditions for growing a wide range of vegetables and fruits, many promising microzones, access to high-quality water for irrigation, and thousand-year traditions of viticulture, vegetable growing, and fruit growing.  The country grows and consumes many unique products with excellent properties and has hard-working people.  However, the country’s investment climate is criticized even by local investors, limiting these vast prospects’ realization.

One more trendy article of 2020 – Why Are Tajik Farmers Disappointed with Intensive Apple Orchards? –reportedly confirms Abduvohidov’s words.  It’s hard not to disappoint when you spent a lot of money on seedlings and other technology and you get a harvest 5-6 times lower than promised.  After all, many farmers saw with their own eyes that you could get much more from an intensive orchard!  Since EastFruit raised this topic, it had to explain the reasons for the problems.  The article on the top 10 mistakes in planning intensive apple orchards, typical for all Central Asian countries, was even more read and discussed.  Many apple producers contacted us with requests for advice from intensive farming consultants.

It is interesting that officials also contributed to the decline of fruit growing efficiency using modern intensive horticultural technologies.  EastFruit has repeatedly received complaints from Tajikistan farmers that officials were forcing them to plant potatoes and vegetables in the aisles of modern gardens.  

It is possible to get late apple varieties very early in Central Asia, which is a significant export opportunity! For example, apples of the Golden Delicious variety, which in Ukraine usually ripens in mid-September, appeared on the market in Tajikistan at the end of July!  It turns out that regional producers have about a month of carte blanche in the export of late varieties.  Besides, they can sell apples at high prices, and there is no need to build an expensive storage infrastructure.

In the summer, Tajik farmers suffered losses due to border closures and difficulties while transporting goods outside the country.  As a result, the unprecedentedly cheap vegetables and fruits delighted consumers but struck farmers.  Onions were incredibly cheap, so were other vegetables and fruits.  It led to an increased volume of dried vegetables and fruits; therefore, the supply of this category of goods may grow.

The most pleasant news of 2020 was the news about real superfoods found in Tajikistan. This news attracted the attention of the international community to this country. Who knows, maybe the American Whole Foods Market will one day have a Tajik fruit and vegetable superfood department?  Although you can even start with Moscow, especially since many ethnic Tajiks are living there.  Here are links to EastFruit articles about unique vegetables and fruits of Tajikistan:

-       Exports of Anzur onion: a promising superfood from Tajikistan;

-       Dovcha and gura: mysterious and yet well-known early fruit from Central Asia;

-       Superfood of Tajikistan: mountain onion siyohalaf or “black grass”;

-       Grape leaf as a business or how much money Dolma brings.