Business links between Afghan traders to international markets were severed as a result of the conflict that Afghanistan endured for the past thirty years. Afghanistan fell behind in modern sorting, grading, packing, marketing and shipping practices for agricultural commodities as well. Afghan traders are working to build the country’s export potential and to find a way to make up for this lost time in order to compete on the world market. With the assistance of, Afghan farmers have been able to improve their crop yield, but they still need access to international markets in order to maximize profit from these increased yields. Mrs. Kamila Sadiqi, the first Afghan woman to forge international trade agreements, has helped to close the gap for Afghanistan and is building ties to the world’s dried fruit and nut markets.
Roots of Peace recognized that Afghan farmers and traders need greater access and more opportunities to sell their increasingly abundant crops of fruits and nuts on the international market. The 2013 Gulf Food Expo in Dubai, the world’s largest annual tradeshow for the food and beverage industry, provided an excellent opportunity for Afghan traders to make connections with buyers from high value markets in Asia and the Middle East. In February 2013, Roots of Peace, with funding from USAID arranged the travel for over 30 Afghan traders’ attendance at the food expo in Dubai.
One of the traders supported by Roots of Peace, Mrs. Kamilia Sadiqi, owner of Nawayan Naweed Company in Kabul, took full advantage of this opportunity. At the Gulf Food Expo, Mrs. Sadiqi finalized a new contract for the first ever shipment of Afghan fruit to Malaysia with an initial 11 MT of raisins, as well as a contract for 34 MT of raisins to Saudi Arabia. Mrs. Sadiqi also secured contacts with potential buyers in 11 countries for her dried fruit and nuts. Prior to the expo, Mrs. Sadiqi‘s company was only shipping to Moscow and Almaty, Kazakhstan. Mrs. Kamilia Sadiqi’s total contracts for the show totaled $2.9 million, which is a 50% increase in revenue for Nawayan Naweed Company from before the expo. Establishing these connections is vital to the overall success of the agricultural economy in Afghanistan, and it is great to see the farmers like Mrs. Sadiqi seeing such success.