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Why the new UNECE Standard for Dried Apricots matters for Fergana Valley and peace…

The new UNECE Standard for Dried Apricots adopted on 29 June by the Specialized Section on Standardization of Dry and Dried Produce (GE.2) will significantly boost the international trade in Dried Apricots. The standard, which has been revised in the presence of the world's largest producer, Turkey, as well as government and industry representatives from around the world  concluded 4 years of consultations and trials by the dried apricot industry. The new standard has not only received a significant overhaul, it is now adapted to new and future sustainable production and trading practices.

But this particular standard does more... it offers producers in the Fergana Valley, an area spreading across Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan where ethnic violence erupted in 2010, a sustainable way to pool their productions and increase their competitiveness on international markets. At the Geneva session, representatives from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan expressed their intention to possibly adopt this standard as the basis for their national standard to help harmonize the quality of apricots and combine the harvest in a cross-border production scenario. This would give Fergana Valley dried apricots potentially new markets and the Valley’s family farmers a sustainable economic base... A small but significant step towards a peaceful future in this region.

As part of a UN Development Account project on improving cross-border agricultural supply chains, UNECE has been working with partners from governments, the private sector as well as donor agencies (GIZ and Hilfswerk Austria International). All of them were present at the session in Geneva and worked on an inclusive and harmonized standard, discussed funding and resource coordination as well training events. 

Discussions on this unique regional cooperation and particularly on how to apply the UNECE standards and available training tools will continue in 10 days at the UNECE-UNDP workshop on nuts and dried fruit in Tashkent Uzbekistan. UNECE’s international experts (USA, Turkey, France, Italy, China, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan) will train participants from Central Asia as well as project managers from UNESCAP, UNDP and FAO on how to improve food security, food quality, food safety and trade in the Central Asian region.