According to EastFruit, wholesale lots of apples from Ukraine and Moldova have become available on the Tajik market. They are being sold very successfully, despite the relatively high price and oversupply of local apples. Why are expensive imported apples in demand, while local ones are barely sold?
According to Bakhtiyor Abduvokhidov, consultant of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), local and imported apples are sold in different segments. “Supermarket buyers prefer imported apples because of their higher quality parameters: apples are large, calibrated in size and color, they look beautiful and are well stored, reducing the risks of the supermarket,” the expert explains.
According to him, apples from Moldova are sold in bulk at 22 TJS/kg (about $1.95/kg), while Ukrainian apples cost 19 TJS ($1.69). There are Golden Delicious apples from Moldova and red apples from Ukraine on the market. At the same time, local Tajik apples of more or less good quality are sold 2.5 times cheaper – at 8 TJS ($0.71), and low-quality apples – at 3-4 TJS/kg in bulk ($0.26-$0.36).
The monitoring of wholesale prices for apples by EastFruit shows that wholesale prices in Tajikistan are, on average, 2 times higher than in Moldova and 3 or more times higher than in Ukraine. However, Moldovan and Ukrainian apples outperform apples from Tajikistan in terms of quality.
“Due to high apple prices, we constantly hear growers in Tajikistan being disappointed in the apple business, considering it unprofitable. In my opinion, the main reason is a huge lack of knowledge and experience in intensive farming in the country leading to many mistakes and extremely low yields, and low quality compared to Moldova and Ukraine. But in modern horticulture, the success of a business is determined by the quality of products and the efficiency of the cultivation,” Andriy Yarmak, economist at the Investment Centre of the FAO, explains.
A year and a half ago, we described and analyzed the causes of these problems in the article “Why are Tajik farmers disappointed with intensive apple orchards”, as well as in the article “Top 10 problems for intensive apple orchards in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries”. Since then, little progress has been made in technology, but production has also increased, affecting apple prices and exacerbating the problems of the least efficient growers.
As we see from the chart, prices for Tajik apples in the 2021/22 season were on average more than a third lower than a year earlier. Even so, there are imported apples on the market, which are in rather high demand.
“In my opinion, investments in apple cultivation in Tajikistan, subject to a professional approach to business – cultivation, processing and storage, can still be very attractive. Business can be more profitable than in Ukraine or Moldova, given the high level of apple prices in the country,” Andriy Yarmak sums up.
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