Kyrgyz Beans For The World

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Sunday, June 27, 2021
Aktuigun Pazylova, founder of Ecomarket

How USAID is Helping Central Asian Agricultural Producers Conquer Global Markets

Aktuigun Pazylova founded her company, Ecomarket, in 2015 to process Fava beans (broad beans) and chickpeas in the Kyrgyz Republic. She started her business with seven workers, one washing machine, and a frying machine with a capacity of four tons per month. 

The product was of high quality, but production volumes were too small to meet international demand. As a result, markets were limited and the company only focused on selling fava beans to the Russian market as a raw material input.

“We had a great, natural product. So we decided to expand our production and reach a global market,” says Aktuigun.

Grow Local, Sell Global

Fava beans are an important source of protein, minerals, and vitamin-B worldwide. The volume of the global market for fava beans is estimated around $3 billion. In the Kyrgyz Republic, they are largely grown in the Zheti-Oguz district of the country’s north-eastern region of Issyk-Kul. The district’s rainy, cool climate is a perfect environment for the cultivation of these beans.

Developing New Products

Instead of selling her products as raw materials, Aktuigun wanted to add value by producing a high-quality, packaged product ready for placement on supermarket shelves. 

“I learned about different fava bean preparations, such as baked and flavored, and explored packaging and marketing options such as vegan, healthy snack, and protein rich products,” says Aktuigun.

All these changes required investments and Aktuigun turned to USAID’s Innovation Facility, an initiative implemented under its Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs activity. Under this initiative, USAID provides financial assistance to businesses with a goal to introduce innovations and increase exports from Central Asia. In the last four years, USAID has provided $1.95 million to 40 businesses to realize their innovative ideas.

After a successful application, Aktuigun received $50,000 in grant financing to purchase modern equipment for peeling, frying, roasting, and packing fava beans. This enabled the company to increase its processing capacity four-fold, up to 20 tons per month. As a result of such expansion, the company also hired twelve new full-time staff. Around 500 local farmers of Zheti-Oguz district are also benefiting from seasonal harvesting jobs and as suppliers of fava beans and chickpeas.

Conquering New Markets

In October 2019, Ecomarket’s products were showcased at the Anuga Trade Fair, the world’s largest food and beverage exhibition, which took place in Cologne, Germany. The event attracted more than 7,500 food industry exhibitors and 165,000 visitors from 100 countries. USAID’s Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs activity had a “Taste of Central Asia” stall to showcase the region’s horticulture products at the fair. 

As a result, Prodenergo LLC, a company from Ukraine, ordered a trial batch of fried fava beans that showed promise for the Ukrainian palate. 

“In April 2021, we signed a $100,000 contract for the supply of fava beans for distribution across Ukraine,” adds Aktuigun.

The Largest Exporter

Today, six years after its inception, Ecomarket is the largest producer of fresh and fried fava beans in the Kyrgyz Republic. The company even has its own registered trademark, Bobyor Bob. In cooperation with another Kyrgyz brand, Oimo Foods, the company’s products are conquering international markets like Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. You can find its products in different retail chains like Globus, a large supermarket chain in the Kyrgyz Republic, or Ozon.ru, a Russian online retail chain.

“Kyrgyz products have great potential, and I believe that in the coming years 'Made in Kyrgyzstan' will be a well-known brand in the global market. Though the Kyrgyz Republic cannot offer large volumes, it can surely supply quality products,” says an optimistic Aktuigun.

About This Story:

USAID’s Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs activity facilitates trade and employment in horticulture, tourism, transport, and logistics across the five Central Asian economies. This support helps to develop a more diverse and competitive private sector and generate export-driven growth. Since 2016 USAID’s Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs activity has facilitated over $106 million in export trade deals and transport and logistics services.

Last updated: July 21, 2021

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