Kabul, Afghanistan – COVID-19 pandemic-related closures and cancellations affected numerous international trade shows in 2020. As countries begin to open their borders, Afghan agricultural exporters are gearing up to display their products for overseas buyers once again at Gulfood 2021, the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade show taking place in Dubai. Now in its 26th year, the event is expected to host 85 country pavilions at the Dubai World Trade Center. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will support 29 agribusinesses, including five exhibiting for the first time, to showcase Afghanistan’s finest dried fruits, saffron, nuts, spices, honey, and juices at the exhibition from February 21 to 25.
“Expanding sales of Afghan products in these important export markets means better incomes for farming families, dignified jobs for Afghan women and men, and an improved trade balance for Afghanistan,” said USAID/Afghanistan Mission Director Dr. Tina Dooley-Jones. She added, “The U.S. government, through USAID, remains committed to support Afghans in their quest for peace and prosperity.”
This year, four USAID programs — the Agriculture Marketing Program, the Regional Agricultural Development Program – East, Afghanistan Value Chains – High Value Crops, and Afghanistan Value Chains – Livestock — are facilitating Afghanistan’s participation in Gulfood. Last year, 27 Afghan agribusinesses signed more than $60 million in contracts and deals at the event.
Dubai is now facing an increase in COVID-19 cases, resulting in restrictions on public gatherings. Trade show authorities have reduced the exhibition space and expanded passageways for the tens of thousands of expected visitors. “The rules have definitely changed this year, but we’re excited,” said Tim Bergstrom, Chief of Party for USAID/Afghanistan’s Agriculture Marketing Program, which is organizing the Afghanistan Pavilion. “Our booth space used to be in a temporary structure, but now we’re in the main hall next to countries like Portugal, Russia, and Italy; so we’re expecting much better access by trade show visitors and visibility of Afghan exhibitors.”
Gulfood Expo will be hosted in a million square foot exhibition space, allowing for 4,200 exhibitors that will welcome over 98,000 trade visitors from 152 countries. The Afghan Pavilion is located in Hall No. 9, Stands F9 and G9 of the Dubai World Trade Center.
Since 2003, Afghanistan’s agriculture sector has improved considerably from basic production systems to increasingly sophisticated value chains. With USAID’s support, Afghanistan is increasingly recognized in regional markets for its diverse range of high-quality products.