Plant Protection for Safer Trade

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Thursday, April 1, 2021
Dildora Atadjanova, founder of Theodora Goods, featured above
USAID's Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs activity

Uzbekistan steps up plant health and protection against the spread of pests

With COVID-19 sparking supply chain disruption leading to unprecedented demand for natural horticulture products, protecting plants and plant products from pests while facilitating safe trade is more important than ever. Such protection is the mandate of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), one of the three reference organizations of the World Trade Organization’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement, along with the Codex Alimentarius Commission (food safety), and the World Organization for Animal Health.

With 300 sunny days annually and fertile soils that yield triple harvests, Central Asia’s Ferghana Valley is a strategic regional food security asset shared by the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, with its largest portion being in the latter. When Uzbekistan became the IPPC’s 184th member, in January 2020, plant health took a major step forward. All three countries are now members, extending IPPC standards to the entire valley and enabling trilateral cooperation. 

In 2020, Uzbekistan’s horticultural exports exceeded 1.4 million tons and $1 billion in value. However, without good pest management, shipments are at risk because importing countries test for pests and reject infested shipments. Uzbek exporters have been hurt not only by COVID-driven disruptions, but also by pest management failures. Pest detection and control at home are essential to Uzbek exporter success.

New Horizons for a Small-scale Exporter with Big Impact

One exporter, Dildora Atadjanova, founder of Theodora Goods (video), saw opportunity in the crises. “After failing several quality tests abroad, I prioritized food security and focused on learning the right technological processes to meet standards,” noted Dildora. Prior to the COVID pandemic, Dildora attended learning events supported by USAID’s Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs activity – a study tour to India and a trade fair in Dubai – which reshaped her managerial mindset.

In 2019, Dildora joined farmers from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on a study tour of India’s Maharashtra state, known globally for production and export of table grapes. Dildora learned modern grape post-harvest and export techniques. She expressed gratitude for the program: “It took many years to us to grow from a small cooperative to a well-organized modern cluster. Upon returning to Uzbekistan, I had a better understanding of what we had done wrong. It opened new horizons for my business.” Teodora Goods now exports regionally and to France, Korea, and Oman.

In February 2020, USAID’s Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs activity sponsored Dildora’s attendance at Gulfood, the world’s largest food and beverage trade exhibition, and featured Teodora Goods among 130 firms in its Directory of Central Asian Horticulture Exporters which also lists transport costs and transit times from the region to European and Asian markets. This aid better prepared Dildora and others when COVID-19 cut trade and disrupted business. “I put my export practice on hold and focused on Dalatech, a new digital platform and on launching an algorithm-based system that maps product quality control steps through the cold chain,” said Dildora.

Expanding Regional Trade

USAID’s assistance to Uzbekistan’s IPPC accession also helped exporters like Dildora with market access. USAID Uzbekistan’s Acting Mission Director, Rebecca Black, in her February 2021 Uzreport World TV interview, noted: “By joining the IPPC, it is now possible for Uzbek farmers to sell their produce overseas and among the [Central Asian] countries themselves. Regional trade is very important and is part of the U.S. Government’s interest in promoting trade among the countries themselves and with the U.S. and other countries.”

USAID’s Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs activity helped Uzbekistan’s State Plant Quarantine Inspectorate (SPQI) achieve IPPC accession by developing an accession roadmap and advising on phytosanitary-relevant legislation, pest risk analysis, and diagnostic procedures.

To support SPQI, USAID contracted Ringolds Arnitis, former Director General of the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, an IPPC regional body. He delivered workshops on IPPC implementation, the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, and post-accession compliance. USAID also provided supplies worth $8,000 for SPQI to test for the presence of the bacterial blight (Erwinia amylovora) in Ferghana Province. 

USAID support helped Uzbekistan’s SPQI adopt international pest surveillance standards, methodologies, and phytosanitary reforms which enhance the Ferghana Valley’s strategic value, improve the competitiveness of Uzbek horticulture in foreign markets, and contribute to the realization of President Mirziyoyev’s goal of doubling horticultural exports by the end of 2021.

“I am hoping to make “a rational way of using resources” - a viral idea for other businesspeople in the agroindustry. I want my company to be a good example,” concluded Dildora Atadjanova, the exporter from Uzbekistan.

ABOUT THIS STORY:

USAID’s Competitiveness, Trade and Jobs activity works with national plant protection agencies under the C5+1 U.S. diplomatic platform to improve pest management and better protect horticulture production and exports. C5+1 is a platform for dialogue to address common challenges faced by the five Central Asian countries and the United States.

Last updated: May 11, 2021

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