A smiling man

Trade for Tomorrow

One man's transformation from farmhand to entrepreneur

Uzbek farmer Abdugaffor Haknazarov’s fruits are sold across Central Asia and the Baltics. He’s traveled to India, Tajikistan and the United States to hone his craft, and now he’s a leader in his community.

All this, he says with a smile, was unimaginable just a few years ago.

“Before I had this business, I couldn’t even afford a bicycle,” he said.

Two men looking at produce in a market
Boxes of apples

“For much of my life, I worked in other people’s orchards,” said Abdugaffor, who grows fruit in eastern Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley. “But I always dreamed of having one of my own.”

A basket full of pomegranates
Hands holding an open pomegranate full of seeds
Sliced apples on a table
A group of men loading crates of apples into the back of a truck

Today, the 36-year-old has his own orchards—and so much more. He grows grapes and pomegranates, which he preserves in his cold storage unit so that they can be sold at peak market prices.

Better prices means he can hire four year-round employees and another 20 people during the harvest, improving livelihoods across his community.

A group of women harvesting apples in a sunny orchard
Silhouette of a man pushing a pallet of crates

Working his way up

Abdugaffor achieved all this through hard work, good timing and help from USAID.

When the Government of Uzbekistan began providing plots of land to its citizens as part of a larger land liberalization program, Abdugaffor signed up and received an underutilized orchard.

Quickly, he transitioned from hired hand to budding entrepreneur — hiring people from his own community in the process.

But many farmers are subject to the boom-and-bust cycle of agriculture. The prices are lowest when they have the most to sell.

Cold storage helps change that. Abdugaffor can now store his products until prices rise, and then sell them in the markets with the highest prices.

USAID helped him acquire and learn to use his first cold storage unit in 2011. He has since purchased a larger unit and also rents space to other farmers in the area.

Screen of a smart phone with pictures of pomegranates and Cyrillic writing
A group of men stack crates of apples in a warehouse
A man on a phone, leaning against stacks of boxes in a warehouse

USAID’s work with the Government of Uzbekistan to improve regional trade has helped Abdugaffor export his products to Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Latvia — and he'll be looking even further afield in the coming years. "Many of [the trade] barriers have been taken away," he said. "These days, our government is creating the conditions needed for export."

A Pillar of His Community

Abdugaffor’s success has made him a leader in his community. At home, his family is thriving. Abdugaffor has married, and he and his wife have three sons. His income has helped to pay for his three sisters’ weddings.

He even helped his parents achieve a lifelong goal: He recently sent them to Mecca for the Hajj.

Three men talk at an outdoor table covered with apples
Men load boxes of fruit onto a truck

Abdugaffor’s plans for the future are even bigger. He wants to buy a larger cold-storage unit, hire another four full-time people, double the number of seasonal employees and export to more countries.

He wants one of his sons to become a doctor. The other two? He wants them to follow in his footsteps to become successful entrepreneurs.

A family talks and laughs at a meal
A family with two men and two boys poses in a field

"I used to dream,” Abdugaffor said, “but I never thought that I would be so successful.”

About This Story

Throughout Central Asia, USAID is working with governments and the private sector to facilitate the development of competitive, inclusive market systems.

USAID is working in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to improve the region’s trade environment, boost exports and create jobs.

In partnership with the Government of Uzbekistan, USAID supplied agricultural experts to teach farmers like Abdugaffor best practices in orchard management and post-harvest production.

USAID also worked with the Government of Uzbekistan to improve trade throughout the region. The government cut red tape to help boost exports, and better relations between neighbors are increasing trade within Central Asia and beyond.

Since 2017, USAID assistance in Central Asia has led to more than $7 million in sales of U.S. products, including John Deere tractors and root stock from California nurseries.

Video and photos by Thomas Cristofoletti