According to EastFruit analysts, traders from Afghanistan returned to import fruits this week, which was a big relief for Tajik winegrowers. A week earlier, the market sentiment was weak, as exporters of Tajikistan were cut off from the two of their largest markets for table grapes, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.
However, Afghan grape importers are purchasing only one variety so far – Taifi. The reason is that it has a thick skin and tolerates long-term transportation well and has a longer shelf life. This is extremely important when the domestic fruit market in Afghanistan has not yet fully stabilized and logistics is unpredictable.
“Several groups of Afghan fruit importers have started purchasing Tajik table grapes. One of them has already purchased more than 200 tons, which means that the total volume of imports may turn out to be large, which has already helped stabilize domestic prices for Taifi grape variety. The first Afghan trucks loaded with Tajik grapes are already crossing the border,” says Bakhtiyor Abduvokhidov, a consultant to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
“The purchase price for Taifi grapes from a farmer is 2.6 somoni (about $ 0.23), excluding the cost of packaging materials. Although the price is relatively low, it is at least not lower than last year, while other grape varieties are sold cheaper than in 2020. It is notable that Afghan importers transport Taifi grapes in trucks without refrigeration in order to save on shipping costs. Of all the grape varieties, only Taifi can be normally transported at a daytime temperature of +35 degrees Celsius,” the FAO expert explains.
At the same time, all other table grape varieties continue to fall in price, because Tajikistan is still experiencing a serious shortage of modern fruit storage and pre-cooling facilities for table grapes. Also, other varieties are less transportable than Taifi, and Afghan importers are not interested in them.
Nevertheless, market participants expect that from September 10, grape prices will stabilize and might even grow, as storing of grapes into the storage facilities in significant quantities will begin. In addition, prices are so low this year that many still take the risk and store grapes, despite the difficulties in exporting table grapes to Russia due to the closed border with Kyrgyzstan.
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