The Azadpur Market in Delhi is the largest fruit and vegetable market in Asia and possibly, the world. The volume and diversity of goods sold is impressive. The market is comprised of several open-fronted sheds totaling an area in the region of 20 hectares in extent. Pomegranates dominate one of these sheds which is approximately 200 meters long by 20 meters wide.
Afghan pomegranates compete with produce from other countries as well as the prolific Indian production, mainly from the Maharashtra region. The Indian market is very well established with supply available for much of the year, imports supplementing those times when Indian supply drops.
Afghan pomegranates have been seen in the Indian market for some time, but have struggled to make significant inroads, until now. With the aid of USAID funded projects, Afghans are once again reclaiming their reputation for very good quality pomegranates. Training in harvesting, handling and presentation of the crop has led to huge improvement to the quality of offerings. This year saw in excess of 5,000 metric tons of Afghan pomegranates in the Delhi market.
Training started before the harvest, engaging with farmers and traders at the farm level, educating all in the importance of a well handled and well-presented crop. This has translated into some very favorable comments by traders in the Indian market, as well as from some traders. These comments serve well to illustrate the point:
“I have been in this business for 30 years and have seen some Afghan product over the last 20 years. This year is the best-presented crop I have ever seen. There is great consistency to the Afghan product.” – V J, Indian Trader.
“This crop is good. The packing is much better. When the presentation is good, it is good for the market, everybody wins. The trader gets a better price, the producer gets a better price, and the consumer gets a better product. Everybody wins.” – Manish, Indian Trader.
Basrurkar Market, Delhi. A typical fruit outlet selling local and imported produce.