Diversifying Markets for Eastern European and Central Asian Horticulture

PROJECT SUMMARY

Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are set to capitalize on increased global consumer demand for fruit and vegetables through this project to build capacity, investment and market links to boost their horticultural exports.

CONTEXT

When it comes to producing a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan offer a perfect recipe of relatively warm climates and proximity to high-value export markets in western Europe and beyond where demand is growing for horticultural produce. Added to the mix is a rich genetic heritage of crops like apples, apricots, grapes, and nuts, many of which have their origins in this part of the world.

This EBRD and FAO project is building on earlier work to develop the potential of the horticultural export markets by identifying greater efficiencies across value chains and undertaking promotional activities to strengthen market linkages including with retail chains. Critical to success is strengthening the capacity of producers and value chain actors to meet stringent requirements around market transparency and food safety and build resilience into a high-risk sector to attract serious investment, for example, by reducing loss and waste during cultivation, harvest and transport.

Activities​

Value chain analyses to identify profitable investments and opportunities including but not limited to table grapes (Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan), nuts (Uzbekistan), apples and pears (Moldova), soft fruits (Tajikistan), and the development of greenhouse production for off-season crops (all).

A fresh produce retail audit to develop trade opportunities for selected value chains in local and export markets with results communicated through regional investment promotional conferences and online.

Capacity strengthening and knowledge exchange including nine study tours, seminars in each project country to communicate findings and demonstrate new technologies and opportunities and workshops/masterclasses on modern production, post-harvest handling and packaging, with practical demonstrations in the field where possible.

Identification and referral of promising SMEs that meet eligibility criteria to the EBRD’s Advice for Small Business team in each country for further support.

Establish the EastFruit trade platform, considered the main reference point for market and price news related to the horticultural sector across Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Achievements

  • Knowledge-sharing and capacity-development activities include forty conferences (around 4 200 participants in total) and forty seminars and training events (around 2 500 participants in total. Videos of seminars and training events can be found on East-fruit- YouTube.
  • Seven study tours resulted in many positive outcomes in different subsectors of horticulture in the countries of operation, for example, the introduction of better-quality varieties of strawberries in Tajikistan following a study trip to Ukraine, and the addition of table grapes to wine grape production in Georgia, lowering imports and even generating some export trade. More information can be found on East-fruit.com
  • A unique incoming trade mission for foreign buyers of fresh produce to Uzbekistan led to new trade deals, with resulting investments estimated to be in the region of around USD 500 million.
  • EastFruit has maintained its leading position among the main sources of high-quality market information in Eastern Europe and Central Asia attracting 1 million unique users per year. In 2022, it shared around 3 000 materials. It has also enhanced its sustainability – the Ukrainian horticultural association has financed a Ukrainian language version.
  • EastFruit’s YouTube channel attracted more than 320 000 views in 2022 and shared 20 videos while EastFruit social channels have increased audience and engagement including Facebook (6 900 followers), LinkedIn (3,000+ subscribers), Twitter (635 followers) and Telegram (2 700 subscribers and around 30 000 followers combined for the trading platforms Fruit and Vegetables; Technology; Trading Group for Ukraine).

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