Like any other day, on November 29, 2006 Ariana Airlines Flight 401 left Kabul International Airport for Dubai. On this day, however, the national airline’s aircraft carried aboard a trial shipment of 1,300 Kg of fresh fruit and vegetables from Eastern Afghanistan.
Supported by the USAID-funded Alternative Livelihoods Program for the Eastern Region (ALP/E), Hadyatullah-Samsour Bam Ltd., a privately-owned Afghan trading company, and a group of progressive farmers from Kunar, Laghman and Nangarhar provinces supplied a variety of fruit and vegetables to test the demanding market in the United Arab Emirates. Under the brand name “Pride of the Eastern Region,” the trial shipment from Afghanistan was sold through a supermarket chain and 16 hotels in Dubai and generated a first commercial order for 60 tons of produce.
Not long ago, wholesalers from eastern Afghanistan couldn’t export fresh fruit and vegetables from the region as their produce didn’t meet international quality and safety standards. For several months, ALP/E has worked with growers and traders of the region to improve the quality of fruit and vegetables by introducing latest horticultural techniques, modernizing grading and packing facilities, updating packaging design, developing a new brand name, and establishing contacts with importers. Currently, ALP/E is assisting Hadyatullah-Samsour Bam Ltd. and its partner producer groups to ensure quality and timeliness of their next shipment, and build on this first success to continue marketing their brand internationally.