Case Holder:
Mehran Guzargah Cold Storage Company

Contact details

Name: GhulumHazra, Owner

Email: mirkhil555@yahoo.com

Enhancing the capacity of cold storage

Promotion of Youth Employment in Fragile Settings

Background & Context

Grapes play an important role in the economy of Afghanistan and have been cultivated for centuries. Unfortunately, the vast majority of grapes are grown on earthen mounds, resulting in poor quality and high losses due to disorders and pests. Afghan grapes are well known in the region and offer promising sources of revenue for exporters.

More grapes are grown in Afghanistan than any other fruits, comprising nearly half of the total fruits produced, thereby playing an important role in the agricultural economy. Grapes are grown in nearly every part of the country, with commercial production in the provinces of Kabul, Parwan, Kapisa, Kandahar, Helmand, Jawzjan, Herat and Ghazni. The total area of grapevine cultivation in Afghanistan is estimated at more than 62,000 hectares with a total annual production of more than 610,000 metric tons . Average farm yields are approximately 9,800 kg/ha. The grape sector is ripe for expansion into other export markets but systemic constraints exist, such as poor linkages with export markets and a lack of cold storage facilities and correct certification of produce. Afghan grapes cannot compete with imported grapes from Iran which appear on the market off-season; better storage facilities could ensure a  regular income for Afghan farmers.

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The Problem

R2J conducted a Market System Analysis for the grape/raisin sector in the Balkh and Samangan provinces and identified the lack of a good market for the grapes of Feroz Nakchir district as one of the key problems. A total of 13,000 tonnes of grapes are produced in Feroz Nakchir district annually and are abundant during the harvesting season, which means farmers do not get a decent income, as they are sold in the local market at very low prices and a small amount is exported to Pakistan. However, on the off season, due to the lack of proper equipment and techniques in the existing cold storage facilities to store Afghan grapes, they are imported from Iran at several times higher. The Mehran Guzargah Cold Storage Company did attempt to store about 220 tonnes of grapes in 2016 but there was considerable wastage ( the company had to discard around 35 tonnes due to a fungal disease.)

“Grapes are very sensitive compared to other fruits and vegetables such as carrots and need a lot of equipment we don’t currently have. Every year we store carrots, and we benefit a lot but grapes will be the first time (we attempted to store grapes last year but it was not successful due to lack of equipment and skills.) We have to make sure they are properly stored and taken care of…”. Mehran Guzargah Cold Storage Company

Objective

The R2J would partner with GMCSC to  improve the technical capacity of the cold storage in order to store the grapes for long period and provide a technical consultant to enhance the capacity of the cold storage users. Secondly, the company would purchase 220 tonnes of grapes and store them  for a period of 5 to 6 months, selling at higher prices during the winter months. This would help local farmers and promote Afghan produce, avoiding expensive imports from Iran.

Value Proposition & Activities

The company purchased and installed moisture and fungus control equipment in September 2017. Three cold storage technicians were hired from Iran to consult the company on the correct cold storage techniques for grapes. The grapes were bought, sorted, graded, packed and stored in the Mehran Guzargah facility to the end of the ILO contract ( 15th November 2017).  The total cost of the intervention was 18,850 USD. Mehran Guzargah paid 12,050 USD and R2J 6,800 USD. In addition Meran Guzargah invested 165,000 USD for the purchase of 220 tonnes of grapes (750 USD per tonne). The R2J intervention funded the technical expertise, while the company funded the storage equipment and the grapes for storing.

Learning & Results

After the spoilage issues ensuing from the first attempt by MGCSS to store grapes in 2016, the owner visited Iran, where consultation with experts led him to understand the need to buy proper equipment and hire a specialist to run the store properly. They informed him that the temperature needs to be controlled. This also goes for the humidity so that fungus is also controlled and an expert technician should supervise the process of storing.