Support to Rural Food Processors in Kyrgyzstan, Helvetas 2001-2003

    Most food processors in Kyrgyzstan had low sales, old equipment, and lack of access to financial services - even established companies were unable to deliver the requisite quantity and quality of product to the fast growing Siberian market. Though there were many skilled Kyrgyz consulting firms, they operated in urban Bishkek, provided mainly management and marketing assistance, and did not understand that rural food processors needed services such as packaging, transport, sales agents, intermediaries, and legal advice.

    The project realized food exporting in Kyrgyzstan was in its infancy and decided to support companies willing to export food products and to work with food processors. The project took on the role of facilitator, initiating working groups of the service providers and delegating responsibility to these local partners who became involved in the project planning, implementation, and evaluation process. Another major impediment to the development of a BDS market for rural companies was the completely different perceptions the processing company managers and the consultants had of the difficulties faced by the industry. To create a common awareness of the problems, the project initiated workshops of all stakeholders as well as specialized workshops for the fruit and vegetable and milk sub-sectors.

    Summary of results
    Working group members formed an association of consulting companies and fruit and vegetable processors formed their own industry association. One consulting company formed a school for practical managers and another established a technical information center for processing companies. The direct impact of the project on job creation is not yet clear, though it is expected to grow as the program matures.

    The 'participatory project implementation approach' has helped make the project efficient and cost effective. It also has ensured that project objectives remained in line with local partners' needs. The experience the project gained from using this approach was positive throughout. Critical to its success so far have been maximum transparency from the project and a readiness to accept local companies as equal partners in the project development scheme. This applies particularly to decisions on budget allocations.

    Associated Activities and Documents
    Market Assessment
    »Helvetas Kyrgyzstan 2002
    Final Documentation
    »BDS and value chains in rural areas of Kyrgyzstan, Helvetas 2003-5 (English/French/Russian)