Afghan Fruits Feature at Dubai Food Festival
KABUL – Organic pomegranates, apples, saffron, melons, dried fruit, and nuts produced by more than 20 Afghan companies were on display in Dubai as the Middle East’s biggest annual food exhibition opened its doors, USAID said on Monday. The Gulfood exhibition, which started on Feb. 23 and will end on 27, showcases businesses and products in food, drink, food services and hospitality industries. Gulfood was founded 27 years ago and attracted 4,000 companies and more than 77,000 attendees last year.
Afghan agri-businesses, supported by USAID, have participated in Gulfood since 2011. Afghan growers and food manufacturers have struck deals worth millions of dollars at the Dubai exhibition, resulting in new markets for Afghan products in Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the UK.
“Gulfood was an excellent experience last year,” KamilaSediqi said. Sediqi, an Afghan businesswoman, second-year attendee and fruit and nuts exporter, said, “I got a lot of contracts last year, and I am hoping to get even more this year. There is a lot of interest in Afghan produce.” Afghanistan hopes to capture additional market share for high-end produce. Afghan saffron won first prize in the 2012 International Saffron Exhibition in France. International traders said the profit potential in Afghan-produced apples, pomegranates, dried fruits and juices is substantial.
“There is a huge market in the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for Afghan products,” an Indian buyer, AbheyMisra, said. “Afghanistan has improved quality and packaging. It has a good reputation and is known as 100 percent organic.”
Agriculture is the backbone of Afghanistan’s economy as almost 70 percent of Afghans are dependent on farming, livestock or both, and agriculture makes up 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The Afghanistan Pavilion is located at stand S-F43 in the Trade Center Arena of the Dubai World Trade Center.(PAN)