Wednesday, June 09, 2010 -
Tajik farmers and businessmen from the Sughd province are scrambling to find new markets after Russia banned last month the importation of dried fruits and nuts from Tajikistan, reports Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Tajik news service.
The ban was imposed by Russia’s chief consumer protection agency in response to Tajikistan’s recent polio outbreak.
Eight freight cars of dried fruit have already been sent back from Russia. About 5,326 tons of Tajik walnuts and dried fruit on sale in Russia’sNovosibirsk province have also been confiscated,according the RFE/RL report.
A Tajik business man identified as Anvar told RFE/RL that he and his fellow dried fruit exporters where ordered by Russian health officials to stop selling or their inventories would be confiscated.
The northern Sughd province is Tajikistan’s main nut and dried fruit exporter and produces 90 percent of those products.
Local farmers say the ban is partially responsible for a 50 percent plunge in the price of dried apricots and raisons the region usually exports to Russia. On the eve of harvesting season, the price for the yield from 2.4 acres (1 hectare) of apricot orchards has fallen from about $1,200 (5000 somoni) to about $700 (3,000 somoni), reports RFE/RL.
Local Tajik authorities adamantly reject as “groundless” Russia’s contention that dried fruit can carry the polio virus and want the World Health Organization to rule on the issue.