A cross-border trade fair involving 45 entrepreneurs from Tajikistan and Afghanistan was held in October, and was a resounding success.
The fair, which was organised as part of UNDP’s Livelihoods Improvement in Tajik-Afghan Cross-Border Areas (LITACA) project, brought together 45 entrepreneurs, including 11 women, from Afghanistan and Tajikistan to showcase their products and find new business opportunities. The exhibition resulted in 28 agreed business contracts.
“The quality and price of the products were satisfactory for the Tajik customers and therefore Afghan traders sold around 70% of their products during the trade fair.” Said Abdul Rouf Qazizada, a Technical Specialist in the LITACA project.
Afghanistan and Tajikistan share a roughly 1,300-kilometer (810 miles) border, a common language (Persian) and many cultural traditions. The LITACA project, currently in its second phase, works with communities on both sides of the border, helping to promote trade and cooperation between these two countries. The project is implemented in Afghanistan by the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development with funding from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency. It uses an approach developed in Japan called “One Village One Product” (OVOP), whereby communities focus on producing single products which they can produce to a high quality to send to market.
The trade fair took place in the Khatlon Region of Tajikstan over five days in October 2018. More than a thousand people visited the fair each day. Entrepreneurs from the Afghan provinces of Balkh, Takhor, Badakhshan, and Kunduz took part. During the event, entrepreneurs from both countries signed 28 contracts with a combined value of nearly one million USD. These contracts will be fulfilled by mid 2020.
In addition to the trade fair and matchmaking events, an exhibition of products from both countries was organized. At the exhibition, more than 50% of products were sold.
The goods presented by Tajik entrepreneurs for the trade fair included lemons, pomegranates, pistachio nuts, dried fruits, canned vegetables and clothes. Meanwhile, Afghan traders presented processed herbs, dried fruits, handicrafts, shoes, agricultural products, carpets, perfumes, gemstones, leather handmade goods and other items. The Afghan products proved highly successful on the Tajik market.
"We are very pleased with the success of the event,” said Nilofer Malik, UNDP’s Programme Manager. “Cross-border trade is vital to regional cooperation, which is an essential component of Afghanistan's economic growth.”
More trade fairs are planned for the near future. One of these is taking place in Afghanistan in March next year, with two more planned for Tajikistan in June and September.