The Future Group, India’s leading retailer, through its various retail formats, including Big Bazar, is collaborating with USAID Commercial Horticulture and Agricultural Marketing Programme (CHAMP) to deliver mutual benefits to both the Indian consumers and Afghan horticultural producers.
This is a part of India’s ongoing effort to lift Afghanistan through increased trade, and is being rallied by businesses in India as well. The Indo-Afghan ties, spanning centuries, were fractured by strife and conflict in Afghanistan, once known in the region and across the globe as the Garden of Central Asia.
But now, Afghanistan is re-emerging, with concerted efforts and support through her friends, to re-introduce its fruits, nuts and spices in the Indian and international market.
With production rebounding in Afghanistan, the country, with over 3,00,000 farmers, is now ready and determined to share its historically -prized grapes, apples, pomegranates, apricots, nuts and saffron, so that Indians too can experience the joy and glory of nature’s best.
“Our agriculture export growth is likely to continue as South Asian economies expand and as Afghanistan’s trade environment continues to improve,” said Naseer Ahmad Durrani, minister of agriculture, irrigation and livestock, who launched the promotion of Afghan Shindolkhani grapes in Big Bazar GenNext store in Infinity Mall, Malad, Mumbai, recently.
“As Afghanistan re-emerges, overcoming her recent challenges, and begins to re-open its gardens of fruits, nuts and spices, unadulterated by heavy chemical use, India’s consumers stand to benefit from the all natural, pure, and tasty produce,“ he added.
“Given Afghanistan’s seasonal variations, India now has the opportunity to put Afghan’s freshest and finest fruits, nuts, and spices on the tables of Indian households, year round. Thanks to Big Bazar this dream is now becoming a reality,” he added.
“We are committed to source fresh produce from Indian farmers and producers. In addition, to augment the
domestic supply and provide customers with more choice during the non-season, we are happy to collaborate with Roots of Peace and USAID to introduce grapes from Afghanistan. This will ensure our customers have more choice and get quality fresh produce through out the year,” said Gopal Bihani, head, Farm Fresh Business, Future Group.
Over 50 agriculture exporters from Afghanistan are currently visiting Mumbai to explore business tie ups as well as to showcase their finest high -value agriculture products, including fruits, nuts and spices, for the first time for Indian buyers from Maharashtra and neighbouring states at Passage to Prosperity: India-Afghanistan International Trade and Investment Show, a four-day event which is currently underway.
The USAID CHAMP began in 2010 to reduce poverty among rural Afghan farmers by helping them shift from relatively low-value subsistence crops, such as wheat and corn, to high-value perennial crops such as fruits and vegetables.
The programme has worked in half of the provinces of Afghanistan, establishing fruit orchards, providing training in best agricultural practices, building storage facilities such as cool rooms and raisin drying facilities, and helping grape farmers convert from traditional ground-based vineyards to higher-output trellis systems.
The CHAMP programme is being implemented by Roots of Peace, a humanitarian non-profit organisation.