In mid-September, Kandahari farmers eagerly walked green orchard fields filled with bright red pomegranates. During harvest time, the farmers worked as a team to sort, grade, and package the pomegranates to meet international export quality standards.
Three days after harvest, six metric tons of pomegranates were loaded onto an Antonov 12 cargo aircraft, similar to the ones used to transport troops during the Russian occupation in Afghanistan. This time, the aircraft was used for a different mission: it carried the first direct air freight shipment of pomegranates to be delivered to the Emirate of Dubai. This shipment was the first of regular weekly airfreight shipments to important markets in the United Arab Emirates, expanding trade routes from Afghanistan to the world.
While the local average price for pomegranates in Kandahar in September 2007 was about $0.45, the selling price in Dubai was approximately $2.50/kg, or $2500 ton. Pomegranate trader H. Sabit noted that “exports are the key to the future in Kandahar.” After visiting Kandahar, Indian importer Deepak Exports agrees and adds that “the older people in Delhi remember how good Kandahar pomegranates are; this year we hope the next generation will come to realize this.”
Representatives from the USAID-funded Alternative Development Program/South (ADP/S) program accompanied the cargo shipment to Dubai and connected Afghan exporters with Dubai importers to negotiate price / volume ratios in conjunction with the Dubai Promotion Project. The pomegranates were also transshipped to five importers in Mumbai and New Delhi, India.
USAID’s Alternative Development Program/South follows a Value Chain Approach, integrating men and women entrepreneurs in the production and marketing of high-value crops such as pomegranates and linking them to global value chains.