The Sweet Taste of Watermelons: Successful Trial Shipment from Tajikistan to the Baltics

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Najib Khamraev (left) and Audrius Jakubynas (right) pose with the first shipment of sweet watermelons from Tajikistan to Lithuania.
USAID

“The most important thing is that everyone really liked our watermelons. Partners praised our work on sorting and picking them,” said Khamraev, “the variety, taste, color, and maturity are exactly what the buyer needed and we are working on delivering larger volumes next season.”

Beginning in May, Tajikistan enjoys an early harvest of watermelons.

To take advantage of early-season price premiums, Najib Khamraev with his partner, Izatullo Sadulloev, sent a trial shipment of watermelons from Tajikistan to Lithuania thanks to support from the Innovation Facility of USAID Central Asia’s Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs (CTJ) activity.  The shipment was used to demonstrate the feasibility of reaching new export markets from Tajikistan’s Khatlon region. Inspired by the success of sales of Tajik watermelons in Lithuania, Khamraev, head of Avalin LLC, plans to allocate 10 hectares of his land to produce watermelons and create additional jobs for workers in Khatlon, Tajikistan.

Two refrigerated trucks with 40 tons of Tajik watermelons traveled eleven days to reach Lithuanian customers, successfully passing customs and sanitary and phytosanitary controls. “The most important thing is that everyone really liked our watermelons. Partners praised our work on sorting and picking them,” said Khamraev, “the variety, taste, color, and maturity are exactly what the buyer needed and we are working on delivering larger volumes next season.” Khamraev traveled to Lithuania to directly observe delivery of the products. The watermelons received very positive feedback from both the Lithuanian buyer, Jotagris LLC, and its main client – the “Maxima” supermarket chain – for their high quality in taste and appearance.

“I liked the Tajik watermelons and the interaction with my partners from Tajikistan. I see great prospects for the Tajik watermelon in Lithuanian and in the European Union markets,” noted Audrius Jakubynas, Director of Jotagris LLC, an established supplier of horticultural produce in Europe. Jotagris LLC is based in Kaunas, Lithuania, and imports horticultural produce from Poland, Turkey, and Ukraine.

The shipment of watermelons was a pilot effort for both the Tajik producers and the Baltic buyer to test this new supply chain and view the reaction of Baltic consumers to the taste of Tajik melons. In April 2018, CTJ conducted a horticulture trade mission to Latvia and Lithuania to increase competitiveness of local producers and spur trade connectivity between the Central Asian and Baltic markets.

The Innovation Facility of USAID’s CTJ activity is a fund established to incentivize partners to undertake innovative initiatives in the horticulture, transportation and logistics, and tourism sectors to increase their export potential, grow their business, and create jobs. Trial shipments can be risky, but they help buyers and sellers to understand the requirements of each step along a new shipping route.

A partner agreement to buy more Khatlon watermelons, discussions about additional products and onions, and interest in other products, demonstrates the success of the pilot shipment. USAID’s assistance helped to demonstrate the feasibility for Tajik producers to supply new markets while expanding the country’s exports.

USAID Competitiveness, Trade, and Jobs Activity runs from 2016 to 2021.

 

Last updated: February 26, 2020

Share This Page