Apricots offer farmers in southern Tajikistan a profitable opportunity — particularly when dried for export to foreign markets.
In a region where 10 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day, an international team led by U.S. scientists is digging into a new research project to help, advancing the science behind growing, drying, and selling these golden fruits.
Long history, new opportunities for apricot farmers in Tajikistan
Apricots have a long history in Tajikistan, as part of a region that is rich in apricot biodiversity (and potentially where the fruit originated). While apricots are grown widely across the country, farmers in northern Tajikistan in particular have well established commercial production and drying operations. More than 80 percent of Tajikistan’s dried apricots are exported to Russia, the world’s largest importer of dried fruit.
Editor’s note: Michael Reid shares highlights from a five-day short course on postharvest handling of horticultural crops, funded and led by the Horticulture Innovation Lab in Tanzania this summer.
In July, Angelos Deltsidis and I travelled to Tanzania along with Marita Cantwell, our colleague from the UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center, to provide a training in postharvest handling of horticultural crops. The five-day short course was conducted at the Postharvest Training and Services Center on the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) campus in Arusha. Ngoni Nenguwo, the AVRDC postharvest technologist, and Juma Shekidele from the Horticultural Research and Training Institute in Tengeru (called HORTI Tengeru) provided invaluable assistance in organizing and hosting the course. Ngoni also taught some of the course modules during the five-day course.
A team from the Horticulture Innovation Lab recently led eight days of training in Bangladesh about improving postharvest practices for fruits, vegetables, grains and flowers. The residential training was part of the Feed the Future Bangladesh Agricultural Value Chain project led by Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) with funding from USAID/Bangladesh. The workshop’s audience was about 30 trainers, consultants, and other industry leaders in agriculture and food companies who wanted to learn how to reduce food losses and improve food quality across the value chain.
International team customizes training for local crops
The training focused on many of the most common horticultural crops in Bangladesh: eggplant (brinjal), tomato, pepper, cucumber, pumpkin, bitter gourd, pointed gourd, bottle gourd, potato, and mango. Additional sections of the training focused on grains, pulses and fresh-cut flowers.
Nearly every day began with members of the team going to local vegetable markets to buy sample produce for class activities. Without refrigeration in the hotel, fresh produce went bad quickly. On the second day of training, the whole class visited a farmer’s field to discuss best practices for harvest and to pick their own unblemished samples of eggplant, amaranth leaves and pointed gourd for the day’s demonstrations.
UC Davis postharvest specialists built an international team of experts for this training, including: Jingtair Siriphanich, Kietsuda Luengwilai, and Apita Bunsiri from Kasetsart University in Thailand; Md. Atiqur Rahmn from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI); and Md. Younus Ali from the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI). Michael Reid, Angelos Deltsidis, and Britta Hansen led the team from UC Davis, and were joined by Bangladeshi colleagues Amrita Mukherjee and Rezaul Islam.
Approximately 120 people attended the “Southeast Asia Symposium on Quality Management in Postharvest Systems” held in August in Cambodia, sponsored in part by the Horticulture Innovation Lab. The conference was held under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science with conference leadership by Borarin Buntong of the Royal University of Agriculture.
The first morning was attended by H.E. Ty Sokhun, Secretary of State and the representative of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Sandra Stajka, USAID/Cambodia’s Director of Food Security and Environment Office, among other dignitaries.