Afghanistan’s raisin farmers used to supply snacks for people around the world. For many decades through the 1970s, the country claimed about 20 percent of the global market for raisins. But years of conflict and political instability contributed to a decline in production volumes and quality, and farmers lost market share—as well as income.
Today, less than 40 percent of Afghan raisins are exported. These are traded at deep discounts compared with those from neighboring countries because they fall short of international quality and food safety standards.
Afghanistan’s climate makes it one of the world’s most favorable locations for raisin production, and a local company – the Rikweda Fruit Processing Company – is aiming to help Afghanistan reclaim its status as a world-class raisin producer and exporter. With support from GAFSP and IFC, Rikweda has built a greenfield raisin processing plant with a production capacity of 15,000 tons per annum in the Shomali Plain of Afghanistan, north of Kabul. The company’s modern processing technology and food safety practices will produce raisins of high export quality and meet international buyers’ standards.
IFC will $3 million in financing to support the project, while GAFSP will provide a first-loss guarantee of up to $1.25 million. The project will create a market for high-quality locally processed Afghan raisins and is expected to double Afghanistan’s raisin processing capacity and link the country’s raisin supply chain to global markets. Rikweda is also seeking support from USAID to employ women under the Women in Economy program which will contribute to the company’s staffing needs at the processing facility. The project is expected to create a total of 50 full time jobs, of which 35 will likely be held by women, including one facility management position.
- Inclusive Business
Agriculture is a key sector to the Afghan economy, contributing 25 percent of total GDP. Rikweda estimates that it will reach a total of 3,000 smallholder farmers in surrounding raisin producing areas, who will represent its supplier base at full capacity and benefit from predictable sales volumes, reduction in post-harvest losses, and improved prices/payment terms.
Raisin farmers will have access to markets which will support a sustainable livelihood. Sustainable access to markets will create spillover effects for the Afghan rural population, including women, who have long relied on opportunistic farming.
The project is expected to create a total of 50 full time jobs, of which 35 will likely be held by women, including one facility management position.
Mr. Niraj Shah
Head, GAFSP Private Sector Window
Tel: 202 473 3743
Photo: Afghan farmer Mohammadullah working in is vineyard | PHOTO © ABBAS Farzami/Rumi Consultancy / World Bank