Tajikistan’s Apricot Exports Speak for Themselves

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Pulot Ashurov enjoying his apricot garden
Courtesy of Pulot Ashurov

 

Meet Pulot Ashurov, a horticulture producer and the leading exporter of fresh apricots from the Asht district of Tajikistan. 

Representing Apricot & Co., Pulot owns orchards located in the northernmost tip of Sughd Province of Tajikistan, bordering Uzbekistan. The fertile land, rich in vitamins and minerals, has been producing delicious apricots for decades. Tajikistan possesses a huge potential for fruit production due to ideal growing conditions in Asht and across the Ferghana Valley. Pulot, like many other traders in the country, faced challenges exporting small batches of dried apricots because he didn’t have the capacity or verifiable export quality standards to reach high-end export markets.

Things changed for Pulot in 2010 when he approached USAID’s Productive Agriculture project. The project helped Pulot build a cold storage facility that allowed him to consolidate his own produce and acquire more apricots from neighboring farmers, which allowed him to accumulate a large enough volume to export. Today, Pulot, one of the leading producers of dried apricots in the Sughd region, attributes his success to the assistance he received from USAID. 

USAID’s Productive Agriculture project ran from 2009 to 2014. In cooperation with the local community and financial institutions, the project provided farmers with training, seeds, fertilizers and other farming necessities, and helped farmers secure the financing and other support they needed. The project identified five crops for potential expansion: apricots, lemons, onions, tomatoes and melons, and farmers also received support to expand livestock production. The project helped 1,860 farmer beneficiaries increase yields by an average of 33 percent and, in gross margin, by an average of $1,935 per hectare. 

Pulot says USAID taught him the key to a successful business is the quality and safety of products. 

“The starting point for my business and many other businesses across Tajikistan has been our partnership with USAID, which enabled us to demonstrate the quality and safety of our products,” he explained. “Once consumers taste our perfectly ripened and beautifully packaged apricots, our apricots find a niche in that market.”  

Awarded as the Best Exhibitor at the Seventh Central Asian Trade Forum, the flagship USAID trade event in the region, Pulot appreciated the recognition as the gateway to other international markets.

Pulot’s partnership with USAID has been very fruitful. He continues to benefit from USAID training, study tours, business-to-business events, and certified food safety courses hosted by the USAID Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs Project in Central Asia. He has been able to deepen his network with buyers, and market his fresh and dried apricots to new international markets.  

In 2019, Apricot & Co. exported over 750 tons of fresh apricots and delivered trial shipments of dried apricots to the United Kingdom and Poland. Before learning about USAID, Pulot was barely able to export 10-15 tons of dry apricots to Russia. 

Now, Pulot is looking for opportunities to present Tajik apricots to the U.S. market. He has already applied to another USAID project - Future Growth Initiative requesting assistance to facilitate the process. 

The profits from his success have enabled Pulot to modernize his processing line. Today 80 percent of his processing, sorting, calibrating, and loading is automated. Due to the increase in demand for his products, Pulot has created 60 new jobs, along with more than 400 seasonal jobs, all of which benefit the local community.

“An important takeaway from my partnership with USAID is that ensuring the safety and quality of products leads to success with finding buyers and capturing new markets. I am trying to spread this message among other horticulture producers who visit my facilities to gain experience," said Pulot.

 

 

Last updated: January 18, 2022

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