Dubai is an important hub for travel and trade within and into the Middle East and central Asia. The Al Aweer fresh fruit and vegetable market on the outskirts of Dubai city was designed to serve the market throughout the Emirates while drawing produce from around the world. Al Aweer caters to an up-market clientele and so offers the trader potentially high returns for his produce. A recent USAID funded project sought to open up this market to the traders of Kandahar province by facilitating the export of pomegranates to the UAE through the Kandahar International Airport (KDH).
The project addressed the whole value chain from orchard to market and included the following components:
- Training farmers and traders in handling, grading and packing.
- The export process – documentation, arranging airfreight, security and customs clearance, pallet packing and loading.
- Monitoring of shipments arriving in the UAE – customs and phytosanitary clearance and monitoring movement through wholesalers to the final retail outlets.
- Monitoring the product in the market – prices and grades and documenting feedback from traders and consumers.
Although there were many challenges, a total of 25 tons of pomegranates were shipped from Kandahar airport to the UAE. While this is a relatively low volume, the fact that pomegranates were shipped out of Kandahar airport successfully for the first time in forty years makes this a significant achievement. The exercise has generated much interest within the local business community and amongst traders who are keen to take advantage of this lucrative market. There have already been enquiries made to the airport authorities regarding further shipments of not only fresh produce, but also other commodities. A way forward needs to be found to build upon this valuable groundwork.
Pallets of pomegranates being loaded onto the plane at Kandahar International Airport