Processed Seeds Sprout Bigger Profits for Afghan Company

Barakat Bazr employees clean the sesame seeds before they make their way down the dehulling line
Barakat Bazr employees clean the sesame seeds before they travel down the dehulling line.
USAID
Production doubles when sesame seeds are dehulled before sale
“We improved the grade from raw to processed product, and provided full-time jobs for 36 workers.”

October 2015—Each time a case of sesame seeds left the Barakat Bazr factory in Herat, Masood* knew that it was a lost opportunity. The seeds were sold unprepared, making them 40 percent cheaper at just $1,350 per metric ton.

Masood’s story was hardly unusual. Afghanistan is a leading producer of sesame seeds but the product often leaves the country unprocessed because companies like Masood’s don’t have hulling machines to remove the chaff.

As co-owner and president of Barakat Bazr, Masood knew that a huller should be a priority but bank loans were expensive. Help came in the form of USAID’s Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises program, which helps small and medium companies to realize their plans for expansion.

Barakat Bazr applied for an investment partnership with the program in 2013 and, within a couple of years, received a custom-built hulling machine. The company paid for transportation and installation as well as staff training. It also invested in a new production hangar, smaller machines and vehicles.

“We have more than doubled production (to 22,000 metric tons),” says Masood. “We improved the grade from raw to processed product, and provided full-time jobs for 36 workers. We also increased our order for sesame seeds by more than 15 percent, creating more work for farmers and up to 80 laborers who harvest and transport the sesame seeds,” he adds.

Barakat Bazr buys from farmers in Kunduz, Takhar, Balkh, Helmand, Faryab and Herat provinces, and 70 percent of seeds are sold directly to international traders.

“These days, when a shipment leaves the factory, I feel very good knowing we’ll be paid its full value,” says Masood.

So far, the Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises program has formed more than 200 public–private investment partnerships with Afghan small and medium enterprises, more than 20 percent of which are owned or managed by women. The four-year project started in October 2012.

*Many Afghans use only one name.

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Last updated: May 07, 2019

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